Tag Archives: government

20,000 Hoosiers to Lose Unemployment Benefits on December 28

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

Indiana Department of Workforce officials are warning that up to 20,000 hoosiers will not get unemployment benefits beginning next week. The budget deal passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama does not provide for extended unemployment benefits. That means that hoosiers are eligible for 26 weeks of benefits under the Indiana plan. Those who have been receiving benefits under the federally funded extension will no longer be eligible for benefits. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development explains:

What happens to Hoosiers on unemployment when the federal extensions expire?
Unemployed Hoosiers will not be able to receive any further federally extended benefit
payments.

What can I do to help my situation before the federally extended benefits expire?
It is important for you to visit your local WorkOne as soon as possible to get help with
your job search. WorkOne staff can help you update your resume, recharge your job
search and interview skills, strengthen your computer knowledge, get your Indiana High
School Equivalency Diploma, become certified in a high-demand industry and match
your skills with new career opportunities to find a new job. All of these services and
more are free of charge. Log on to http://www.workoneworks.com to find out more.

Are there any other programs to help unemployed Hoosiers with food, rent, or other items?
Visit The Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) website at
http://www.in.gov/dwd. Click on “Unemployment for Individuals”, then click on “Resource
Guide for the Unemployed” on the left side of the page. This guide provides information
about other programs that can help while y

As of June 25, 2013, Indiana University reported 25,000 Lake County residents as unemployed. While the overwhelming majority of those are not receiving extended benefits, it is clear that many local residents will be affected. Statewide it is estimated that 20,000 will lose benefits immediately with many more losing benefits in the coming weeks when the 26 week benefit expires.

Memorial for Fallen Trooper Scott Patrick in Gary Today

21 Dec

Gazette Staff
Gary, Lake County-The Trooper Scott Patrick Memorial was unveiled this rainy, wet Saturday, December 21, 2013 evening on the I-80 east bound to Grant Street exit amidst family, friends, comrades and representatives from many other police departments.

At approximately 8:00 p.m. a Memorial marker was unveiled at the location where Trooper Scott Patrick was killed in the line of duty on Monday, December 22, 2003. Trooper Patrick was dispatched to assist a stranded motorist at the Grant Street exit when he was shot and killed.

State Representative Dr. Vernon G. Smith filed a naming resolution which was passed by both chambers of the Indiana legislature and resulted in the declaration dated January 13, 2013. These efforts were enhanced with the assistance of State Representative Shelli VanDerburgh and INDOT Deputy Commissioner Robert Alderman.

This also marks the 10th anniversary of Trooper Patrick’s death.

The ceremony included the Indiana State Police Honor Guard, the Lake County Pipes and Drums, Indiana State Police Chaplain Coffee, Senior Trooper Geoff Gruber (who was first onscene and wounded Darryl Jeter who was convicted of Scott’s death), Melissa Patrick (Scott’s widow), Isaac Scott Patrick (nine year-old son of Scott) and Jamie Patrick (Scott’s brother).

Indiana State Trooper Scott Patrick memorial

from left to right is Lieutenant Jerry Williams (Lowell District Commander), Melissa Patrick (widow), Isaac Scott Patrick (son) and Jamie Patrick (brother)

 

 

Indiana State Trooper ArrestsMan Wanted by Homeland Security

9 Dec

Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM, Indiana State Police Trooper Yan Dravigne stopped a black Nissan SUV on eastbound Interstate 70 near the 45 mile marker for following vehicles too closely.
During the traffic stop, the front seat male passenger identified himself with an expired Guatemalan identification card. A routine computer check revealed the man was wanted on an active felony immigration warrant. Apparently the man had committed felony battery and felony DUI charges in the past and was deported from the United States. The man is alleged to have reentered the US illegally and found to be wanted during today’s traffic stop. He is currently held in the Putnam County Jail without bond on a Department of Homeland Security detention and removal order.
Arrested: Mario Arturo Lucas Ramos, age 42, of Douglasville, Georgia.
Any questions concerning the Department of Homeland Security detention and removal order, Ramos’s past criminal arrests or the expired Guatemalan ID should be directed to that agency, the DHS.
The driver was cited for following too closely and released.

Surprise, Van Til Now Admits Guilt

2 Dec George Van Til statement proclaiming his innocence.

by Ken Davidson

“The truth is irrelevant to him.”  That is a quote which the Times of Northwest Indiana attributed to George Van Til while he was lying to all of us about stealing from us.    Of course, Van Til was referring to his challenger and not to himself.  Today he finally admitted that he is a thief and a liar.  The only surprise was the timing of the announcement.  The only question that remains to me is whether or not he will part with some of his purported information in order to save his own skin.  No matter what happens, Van Til is not likely to spend significant time in prison.  Although his conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, it appears that he may do as little as ten months behind bars.

Van Til will officially enter a plea to Six Counts of Wire Fraud.  That is six counts of stealing from the people of Lake County, Indiana.  In short, Van Til will admit that he used employees who were being paid by the taxpayers for his personal campaign.  The Plea Agreement, signed by Van Til states:

I did knowingly and intentionally request and direct some employees of the Lake
County Surveyor’s Office to engage in political campaign work while they were
being paid with Lake County governmental funds. Furthermore, I knew that while
doing this campaign work at the Lake County Surveyor’s Office, these employees
were using Lake County property and equipment to engage in political activity.

The maximum penalty that can be imposed is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Van Til is not expected to receive anywhere near that amount of time.  The agreement  calls for the Assistant United States Attorney involved to argue for the minimum sentence under federal guidelines.  The Sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 10-24 months*.   Thus, Van Til is likely to receive a ten month sentence pursuant to the plea agreement.   The agreement specifically allows for Van Til to ask for home detention or some other means.  The Agreement makes clear the Government will oppose any such request:

Although the defendant is free to argue that the sentence imposed (guideline or non-guideline) be satisfied by any means available under the sentencing guidelines, or 18 USC 3553, under no circumstances will the government make any recommendation for a term of probation, home detention, or community confinement and will oppose any request for a non-guideline and non-incarceration sentence.

The major difference in the 24 month sentence and the ten months he is likely to receive, involves the reduction in sentence for “acceptance of responsibility.”  The difference between a plea and a trial in this matter is about 41 months because the Obstruction of Justice charge is a level 14 base offense under Guidelines.  As stated below, the wire fraud charge is a level 7 base offense.

Van Til becomes the 84th Lake County democrat to plead guilty to federal charges.  None has ever been charged or convicted by Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter.

*Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Wire Fraud:

Base Offense Level:   7 (0-6 mo sentence)

Enhancements in this case:  8 points

Credits in this case: 2 points

Total Points for sentencing:   13, guideline sentence:  12-18 months

The Plea Agreement calls for an additional one point reduction in sentencing provided Van Til cooperates with Government officials.  That would reduce the sentence from 12 months to 10 months.

 

 

 

State Police, Marion Prosecutor Confirm Restaurant Raids Throughout State

20 Nov

by Ken Davidson

Officials are now confirming that the Indiana State Police assisted in an investigation that involved the shuttering of several restaurants throughout the State. Captain David Bursten of the Indiana State Police would only confirm that they received a request for assistance in the execution of search warrants from the Marion County Prosecutor. Those search warrants were all served on Monday. He did not have details on specific locations that were searched, but did say that multiple counties were involved. Thus, there is no official corroboration that La Carretta was a target of these search warrants.

Peg McLeish of the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office says the investigation was conducted with the assistance of the her office, Tippecanoe County Prosecutor and the Indiana State Police. When asked if the restaurants would re-open, she refused to speculate. She stated there is currently no court order preventing any restaurant from re-opening.

This is a breaking story and we will continue to update you as details become available. If you or a family member works for one of the closed restaurants, we would love to hear from you. Write to the Gazette at ken@northwestindianagazette.com or use the submit a tip button above.

UPDATE: The Gazette has spoken with the manager of at least one restaurant that was closed on Monday by the Indiana State Police. El Rodeo mexican restaurant in Richmond, Indiana will open as usual at 11:00 am today. When asked if they were closed on Monday, the employee stated “yes, for a little while.” He stated that he “did not know anything about it” when asked for further details.

This is a continuing story, we will keep you posted. See the update here Margaritas Flow Again at La Carreta

la caretta closed

A sign on the door indicates that La Caretta is closed

Sheriff Buncich Confirms Details in Lowell Murders

21 Oct

by Ken Davidson

thomas tj snow

Mugshot of Thomas TJ Snow who is currently in custody in Hawley, Minnesota

A Mugshot of Thomas “TJ” Snow’s arrest in Minnesota hung on the wall as Sheriff John Buncich confirmed the details of the crime previously reported by the Gazette.

Sheriff John Buncich held a press conference today with Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, Coroner Merrilee Frey and investigators Leo Finnerty and Matt Eaton. The sheriff confirmed that the bodies found in Lowell on Friday were those of popular Morton High School teacher Clifford Snow and Joyce Snow. Buncich stated the bodies were “in an advanced state of decomposition.” As previously reported by the Gazette, the cause of death was blunt force trauma and strangulation. The bodies were identified via dental records according to Coroner Frey.

Buncich explained that his office received a request to perform a welfare check on the Snows on Friday October 18. When officers arrived at the home they noticed 13 or 14 newspapers in the driveway. Officers forced entry into the home and discovered the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Snow.

Sheriff Buncich stated that there was evidence that Thomas TJ Snow had been “in and about” the residence subsequent to the deaths of his parents. Buncich explained that later investigation revealed that TJ Snow had used his parents credit cards subsequent to their deaths. When asked about the types of purchases Buncich responded “hotels, stores, etc.” Buncich said authorities would like to speak with anyone who may have had contact with TJ Snow during the period October 4-18.

An all points bulletin was issued for TJ Snow and a white Chevy HHR belonging to the deceased parents. Snow was arrested in Hawley, Minnesota on Saturday October 19. TJ attempted to flee from police after a routine traffic stop. Buncich described the apprehension as a “short pursuit after which Snow was taken into custody.” Officers traveled to Minnesota to speak with Snow. Buncich stated Snow was talking but had not confessed. He was scheduled to make a court appearance in Minnesota today.

Thomas Snow is officially a suspect in the deaths of his parents. He has not yet been charged. When asked about the procedures going forward, Prosecutor Bernard Carter explained that there are two warrants for the arrest of TJ Snow. Prosecutors in Newton County Indiana allege that Snow robbed a gas station on Route 10 on Thursday night. Additionally, there is a felony warrant for Thomas J. Snow for fleeing police in Lake County, Indiana that will allow officials here to hold him once he is released from Newton County.

Buncich credited Commander Eaton, the crime scene investigation staff, and the office of the coroner and prosecutor for working continuously since Friday to solve this case. When asked if there were other suspects in the case Buncich replied “No, not at this time.”

Buncich stressed that this is an isolated incident of domestic abuse and should not cause concern in the community. Thomas TJ Snow has not been charged and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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Government Wants Passwords Reports CNET

26 Jul

 

In Imageyet another blow to privacy, CNET reports that the government has been pressuring major internet companies to provide “encryption keys.”  CNET quoted sources who spoke on condition of anonymity including service providers and government employees.  

“The government is definitely demanding SSL keys from providers,” said one person who has responded to government attempts to obtain encryption keys. The source spoke with CNET on condition of anonymity.

The person said that large Internet companies have resisted the requests on the grounds that they go beyond what the law permits, but voiced concern that smaller companies without well-staffed legal departments might be less willing to put up a fight. “I believe the government is beating up on the little guys,” the person said. “The government’s view is that anything we can think of, we can compel you to do.”

As reported by The Northwest Indiana Gazette yesterday, a proposed amendment to the 2014 defense budget would have curtailed funding for NSA collection of user data except in cases of an actual investigation.  Intelligence officials have not disclosed exactly what information they collect, but it is widely assumed that the NSA collects every email, metadata from phone calls which include location, time and caller, every text message and much more.  Proponents of the programs claim that there are safeguards in place to protect the use of the data and dispute some issues regarding collection.  No one disputes that there is in place a program to collect massive amounts of information regarding US Citizens who are not suspected of any crime.  It remains to be seen whether the defeat of the so called Amash Amendment yesterday will embolden intelligence officials.