Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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June 20, 2013

Prosecutor in Tipton case steps down

Local resident complains of conflict of interest in wind farm vote.

The former special prosecutor investigating allegations that Tipton County Commissioner Mike Cline would receive profits from a wind farm development Cline voted to approve has stepped down.

Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann asked Tipton Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lett to dismiss him from the case because of a potential conflict of interest on Monday.

Clinton County Prosecutor Louis Evans has been named to the case to determine if criminal charges will be filed against Cline, who is serving his second term as a county commissioner.

McCann removed himself as a special prosecutor in the case involving Cline after local resident Jim Leffler filed a conflict of interest complaint with the state’s disciplinary commission last year.

“There was a complaint made,” McCann said of his recent decision to remove himself as special prosecutor. “Although I believe there is no conflict, I wanted to be fair to the citizens of Tipton County. I wanted them to be assured the case was looked at in a fair and objective matter.”

The Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development made the request for an investigation of Cline earlier this year. The group opposes the proposed 150-megawatt wind farm in Prairie and Liberty townships.

The group alleges Cline voted to approve agreements with juwi Wind for the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm that could benefit him financially.

Cline’s mother Phyllis Schuck has signed leases with juwi Wind for five parcels of property amounting to 149 acres. According to records at the Tipton County Courthouse, Cline is listed as a trustee on the property as of last year.

When asked who was farming the property, Cline indicated he was.

Before leaving the case, McCann filed a subpoena with the Tipton County Clerk’s office to provide a true and complete, unredacted copy of Ralph Schuck’s last will and testament to the Indiana State Police.

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