APRIL 09, 2009
The top elected official in a northwest Indiana town and two high-ranking deputies have been convicted of corruption by a federal jury for stealing public grant money intended for the poor.
Calumet Township Trustee Dozier Allen and his top aides pocketed at least $140,000 that was supposed to help the mostly poverty-stricken residents in his town of about 125,000. Located in Lake County, the Calumet Township is one of the state’s largest with an annual budget of nearly $20 million.
Because so many of the residents live in poverty, Calumet is officially classified as an urban township which means it gets millions of tax dollars annually to aide the needy by providing assistance for everything from utility payments, clothing, medical care and job training.
The corrupt veteran lawmaker, who served more than three decades as Calumet’s trustee, capitalized on this to enrich himself. The town’s government consists of an elected trustee, similar to a big-city mayor who serves four-year terms, and three board members. The township’s official web site claims it’s committed to helping all those in need and assures that the genuinely needy will find compassion and understanding at the trustee’s office.
Allen and his two aides stole money from a state contract to gather data that was subsequently used to obtain millions of dollars in public grants for the needy. The disgraced trustee also dipped into a separate $50,000 annual fund earmarked for job development.
The Hammond Indiana U.S. Attorney’s office that prosecuted this case has won convictions or guilty pleas in more than 40 public corruption cases against Lake County officials since 2001 when the office launched a program called Operation Restore Public Integrity.
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