Chesterton Tribune

 

 

FBI eyeing building permits for Porter hospital office building

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The FBI would now appear to be interested in the construction of the new Porter Regional Hospital and the 60,000-square foot medical office building built on adjacent property.

On Friday and again on Monday, FBI agents entered the Porter County Administration Building and requested copies of the building permits for those two structures.

“I will simply say that I can confirm the FBI was in here Friday afternoon and again on Monday morning,” Plan Commission Executive Director Robert Thompson told the Chesterton Tribune today. “They took copies of building permits for both Porter Regional Hospital and for the medical office building. I will give no further comment.”

Those records have also recently received scrutiny from members of the Porter County Council as it works to understand the details of a 10-year tax abatement granted to Porter Regional Hospital.

County Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st, held a press conference last week where he expressed concern about the medical office building, contesting that it should not be included as part of the abatement because the building is owned by someone other than the hospital: The Sanders Trust of Birmingham, Ala. That firm has not approached the council to request an abatement, Biggs said at the time.

Some of the materials Biggs shared with the media were in fact the building permits for both facilities. Both indicate only Porter Hospital LLC as the property owner and both were applied for by The Robins and Morton Group of Birmingham, Ala.

The Robins and Morton Group was contracted for construction work on the two structures.

The permit for the hospital was issued in August 2010 while the one for the office building was issued in September 2011 by the Porter County Planning Office.

This is the second reported instance where the FBI has seized Porter County government documents relating to Porter Regional Hospital.

On the first occasion, the FBI requested documents related to the contract for clinical services between Porter County Commissioners and the hospital signed in December 2012 as part of the county’s employee health plan. FBI agents obtained those documents in November from the Anton Insurance Agency, which services the plan.

Mike Anton of Anton Insurance said at the time that the FBI approached him after someone had suggested to federal investigators that there was something questionable about the contract. Anton, however, said that there is nothing to hide as the deal was completely transparent and above board.

In December, an FBI agent turned up at the Porter County Clerk’s office and took miscellaneous records containing conflict of interest disclosure statements filed within the municipal units of the county from 2007 and 2013.

Also, County Highway Supervisor Al Hoagland said the FBI came to his department in November and gathered copies of various bid proposals from projects done in 2010 and 2011.

 

Posted 3/11/2014