Tag Archives: lake county

Still No Charges for Thomas "TJ" Snow

27 Dec Clifford and Joyce Snow

by Ken Davidson

On October 21, Sheriff John Buncich held a press conference naming Thomas “TJ” Snow as the lead suspect in the death of beloved teacher Cliff Snow and his wife Joyce. The couple were found in their rural home on October 18, 2013 after a call for a welfare check from their out of state daughter. Officers reportedly discovered a grizzly scene upon arrival at the home. Later reports indicated that the couple were beaten and strangled but an official cause of death has yet to be announced. Thomas Snow was apprehended in Minnesota after a short police chase on October 18. Snow waived extradition to Indiana on October 22, 2013 and was transported to the Newton County Jail on December 11, 2013. Since that time, officials have been mum on details regarding the case. The Gazette has learned, however, that charges have yet to be filed in the matter. Snow has an unrelated warrant from Lake County which will hold him if he is released from Newton County. Snow would be eligible for bond on both charges absent filing of the murder charges.

The Lake County Sheriff still seeks information from anyone who may have had communication with Thomas J. Snow during the period October 4 through October 18, 2013. Anyone with such information should call the Lake County Sheriff at 219.755.3371

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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)

 

 

Cline ave. EB closed due to accident

11 Dec

Lake County -All lanes east bound at Cline Ave are closed due to three semi’s and one passenger car property damage. One of the semi’s was carrying a pontoon boat which is now on the interstate. Traffic is being diverted off at Indianapolis Boulevard.
Police are asking the motoring traffic to avoid this area; west bound traffic is also backed up because of this crash. We are also experiencing numerous other crashes on I-65 and I-80/94 due to the weather conditions. None of these crashes are serious or involve personal injury.
Roadways within the Lowell District are snow covered, slick and hazardous. The roadways are passable, but motorists must slow down, increase their following distance, avoid sudden lane changes and ensure everyone is buckled up. Additional snow is expected throughout the morning and drivers should expect hazardous conditions.

Driver Seriously Injured in Crash on 80/94

9 Dec

Gazette Staff

Lake County, Hammond-A driver was seriously injured early this Monday, December 9th, 2013 morning, when they lost control of the car they were driving.

Preliminary investigation by Trooper John Holmen revealed that at approximately 1:55 a.m., a black 2000 Mercury Mountaineer was west bound on I-80/94 just east of Cline Avenue when the driver was going too fast for road conditions (snow covered and slick in spots) and lost control. The Mountaineer spun out, went off the road and hit the inner barrier concrete wall. This caused the Mountaineer to bounce back onto I-80/94 where it came to rest in the middle lane.

A 2000 Freightliner pulling a soft sided trailer, owned by Vans Delivery Service out of Grand Rapids, Michigan and loaded with building material, driven by Michael W. Wilkins, 42 of Delton, Michigan was west bound and could not avoid the Mountaineer. The Freightliner after hitting the Mercury went off the road hit the inner shoulder concrete barrier wall and came to rest in the left lane.

The driver of the Mountaineer was ejected from the Mountaineer and came to rest in the left lane of the roadway. The driver was taken to Munster Community Hospital in Munster with critical life threatening head injuries. Family has NOT been notified. The driver was not wearing a seat belt.

Wilkins was taken to North Lake Methodist Hospital in Gary with non-life threatening injuries.

All lanes west bound were closed with traffic getting by on the outer shoulder until approximately 04:30 a.m. when all lanes were reopened. The lanes were closed for reconstruction of the crash, removal of the injured and vehicles and clean-up of the roadway.

Additional information concerning the Mercury’s driver will be forthcoming after family has been contacted.

UPDATE:  Driver has been identified as Andrea Taylor, 21 of Chicago Ridge, Illinois. Taylor was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn from Munster Community Hospital.

Transportation Committee Approves Illiana; Gary Abstains

3 Dec

by Ken Davidson

The Transportation Committee of the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission voted 18-8 this morning to add the Illiana toll road project to the 2040 comprehensive plan.  The controversial vote moves the issue forward to the full NIRPC Committee where the fate is uncertain.  The major surprise was the abstention by Gary.  Opponents of the plan had hoped that Gary would vote against the project because it will adversely affect Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s plan to make Gary a transportation hub.

The meeting was strongly attended by union members who support the construction jobs the project will bring. Proponents have argued that the project would bring thousands of jobs to the region.  Residents of the affected region voiced their opposition to the plan via comments online.  Dan Blankenship, a vocal opponent of the plan who lives in Lowell commented:

Nov 19, 2013

I oppose the Illiana for reasons shown in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan from NIRPC that states we need to upkeep roads and highways and infrastructure in the northern part of Lake County and keep intact our farmlands, our wetlands and our wooded areas. It would be a great move if NIRPC turned down this road to nowhere. It will not benefit Indiana in any way. There is no way there will be 16,000 jobs created. Crains’ Chicago Business magazine quoted that the actual belief is it will create only about 900 jobs and that would be over a 10-15 year period. The toll road is not needed, it is a fiasco and I hope all NIRPC members will vote against it. Thank you.  Dan Blankenship, Lowell

All of the comments received by NIRPC are published on their website and you can view them <a href="http://nirpc.org/illiana-expressway-project/public-comments.aspx"Here.

The proposal will now go to full Commission.  At full Commission any member may call for a “weighted vote.” Under the rules, a weighted vote will allow communities to vote based on population. This means that the northern county cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago would have a much larger say in whether the plan moves forward.

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.