Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

March 29, 2014

FBI raids township trustee office

GARY — Federal and state agents have searched the northwestern Indiana office of what is among the largest township government units in the state.

Agents from the FBI, IRS and Indiana State Police obtained a warrant for Thursday’s search of the Calumet Township trustee’s office in Gary as part of an ongoing investigation, said Robert Ramsey, the supervisory agent for the FBI office in Merrillville.

Details about the warrant have been sealed by a federal judge, Ramsey told The Times of Munster and the Post-Tribune of Merrillville.

Agents left the offices with several boxes and a computer, but no one was detained.

Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin has faced scrutiny recently over the office’s spending on assistance to Gary’s low-income residents and the use of take-home cars.

Township attorney Ragen Hatcher said in a statement that Elgin is cooperating fully with investigators.

Elgin is suing the state to stop enforcement of a law approved by the General Assembly last year that would significantly reduce her control over more than $5 million in annual spending if she doesn’t reduce administrative costs.

That law sets up a process for the town of Griffith to possible withdraw from the township — a move that could cost the trustee’s office at least $1.7 million. Griffith officials and residents have claimed for years that they put in far more revenue to the township than is returned in services.

Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa said he didn’t know what impact the investigation would have.

“I am waiting as eagerly as anybody else to find out what they have found because I have no clue,” he said.

Elgin said in a recent interview that fighting the 2013 legislation was among the reasons she decided to seek re-election this year. She is being challenged by Gary Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson in the May Democratic primary.

“I feel very strong about the township, township assistance, and helping the needy,” Elgin said. “I feel very comfortable about what I’ve accomplished, but to leave that unfinished, I think that’s a battle we have not finished yet.”

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