Tag Archives: Social Issues

Luis Smolen, A Family Member of Victim Appear in Court

17 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

Hessville native Luis Smolen was formally charged with the murder of his 6 week old daughter last week. Smolen made a brief appearance in Court on December 16, waiving his right to an arraignment within 14 days. Smolen will remain in custody in Wayne County Michigan at least until his next hearing date which is January 13, 2014. An unknown family member of the victim appeared in court also and acknowledged that she had been contacted by the office of the prosecuting attorney.

Lake County Animal Shelter Hosts Visitor from North Pole

7 Dec Lake County Animal Control gives a holiday welcome

by Ken Davidson

The Lake County Animal Sheriff’s Animal Control and Adoption Center had an out of town visitor today. Santa Claus himself travelled from the North Pole to Crown Point to pose for pictures with pets of fans of the shelter. Many of the animals who came in for photos had been rescued from the shelter in years past. In getting their pictures taken, participants supported the future of the shelter as all proceeds went to medical treatment for the dogs. Photography services were donated by Nina G Photography. Nina G. works tirelessly for the rescue of animals and we hope that you will give her a like on Facebook.

The Animal Adoption Center still needs donations and has published the following wish list:

1. Purina Tidy Cats non-clumping litter
2. Counbry Value dog food
3. Country Value cat food
4. Purina Kitten Chow
5. Laundry detergent (HE)
6. Paper towels/bath towels
7. Clorox disinfecting wipes
8. monetary donations for medical care and spay/nueter
9. Gift cards

If you wish to help the shelter you can stop by at 3011 W. 93rd in Crown Point (in northwest corner of lot of government center) or call 219.769.7016 for more information.

obe terrea fowler

Obe is escorted by his human companion Terrea Fowler as he waits in line to get his picture taken with Santa.

Miss Print Seeks Help for Haven House

5 Dec Angel Tree Hosted by Miss Print of Munster and Hammond

by Ken Davidson

Angel Tree Hosted by Miss Print of Munster and Hammond

Angel Tree Hosted by Miss Print of Munster and Hammond

Miss Print of Munster and Hammond is once again hosting an Angel Tree to benefit Have House Domestic Violence Shelter.  The friendly staff of Miss Print invites you to stop by and pick a card from the tree.  Each card has an item which the Shelter needs.  Among the items listed are toiletries, toilet paper, office supplies and other staples used by the Shelter to help domestic violence victims.   Donations are accepted during normal business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9-Noon on Saturday(Munster location only).  Miss Print has two locations, 8244 Calumet Avenue, Munster, Indiana and Miss Print Sign Company at 6931 Calumet Avenue in Hammond. Donations are accepted at either location. Please follow Miss Print on Facebook for more information about them.

The Gazette spoke with Lisa Wein, Executive Director of Haven House, to discuss her holiday wish list.  Lisa told us that the greatest need with winter coming is twin size blankets.  Donations of gently used clothing items for women and children are always welcome also.   Volunteers are always needed at Haven House and you can find more information about volunteering on the Haven House Website. Donations are also accepted at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church located at 7132 Arizona Street in Hammond and the Jean Shepherd Community Center located in Dowling Park.

The purpose of Haven House is to provide safe housing, the essentials for everyday living, and support services to female adults and their children who are victims of domestic/sexual assault and to assist them in breaking the cycle of violence through education, counseling, advocacy, referral and skill building techniques.  Haven House, Inc, founded in 1983 and located in Hammond, IN. is a 24-hour emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and their dependents. Haven House provides services to Hammond, East Chicago, Whiting, Munster, Griffith, and Highland, which comprises a significant geographic area of Northwest Indiana.

Rx Drug Task Force launches toolkit

11 Nov

INDIANAPOLIS – Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force today to launch a toolkit designed to help the state’s physicians navigate new rules for prescribing addictive pain medication. Zoeller made the announcement during the 4th Annual Prescription Drug Abuse Symposium in Indianapolis. Indiana’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force in partnership with the Indiana State Medical Association developed the toolkit titled, “First Do No Harm: The Indiana Healthcare Providers Guide to the Safe, Effective Management of Chronic Non-Terminal Pain.”This provider toolkit is based on expert opinion and recognized standards of care, with input from healthcare providers representing multiple specialties from all corners of the state,” Zoeller said. “It is our hope this new resource helps physicians understand and comply with the new prescribing rule recently adopted by the Medical Licensing Board. The new rule addresses the prescribing of pain medication for patients who have chronic, non-terminal pain in hopes of stemming the tides of addiction, doctor shopping and overprescribing.”

A recent study by Trust for America’s Health revealed the number of deaths caused by overdoses in Indiana has quadrupled since 1999This year, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation which charged the Medical Licensing Board with developing new rules regarding prescribing controlled substances and strengthening the authority of the Attorney General’s office to inspect physician records in overprescribing cases. The two emergency rules stem in part from recommendations made by the task force.
Zoeller said the prescribing rule, adopted last week, aims to ensure patients are well informed about their prescriptions and physicians closely monitor patients to identify cases of misuse and abuse. Beginning Dec. 15, physicians will be required to monitor certain patient’s history via the state’s drug monitoring system called INSPECT which reveals what medications have been prescribed to a patient. Zoeller said this check can prevent someone from “doctor shopping” or obtaining multiple prescriptions for the same drug from different physicians
“The toolkit was developed by a diverse group of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, academics and public health professionals from across the state,” McMahan said. “Our goal is to educate Indiana healthcare providers on why these state-of-the art recommendations for safe prescribing are important and how to easily implement them in everyday practice. To help with that effort, the toolkit provides resources, templates and even talking points for those difficult-to-start conversations with patients.Zoeller said the growing number of cases involving licensed health professionals caught diverting drugs, overprescribing or fraudulently writing prescriptions is one reason he created the Prescription Drug Abuse Taskforce in 2012. Zoeller chairs the task force which is made up of state legislators, law enforcement, health officials, pharmacists, state and local agencies and education providers.

Earlier this year, Zoeller and the task force launched a statewide public awareness campaign and a website, http://www.BitterPill.IN.gov, to serve as a one-stop-shop for consumers looking for information about prescription drug abuse and where to find help.

Eagle 1, Schererville Police Team to Find Local Man

11 Nov

by Ken Davidson

 

The Gazette received several reports from readers about Eagle 1 flying over schererville yesterday.  The Gazette has now confirmed that this situation did not involve commission of a crime.  The police department had received a credible report that an individual might harm himself and responded. The manhunt was in response to that situation.

While we do not wish to report on this story in particular, the topic of suicide and depression is a serious issue.  We thank the Schererville Police and the office of Lake County Sheriff John Buncich for acting decisively and appropriately in this situation.  Our prayers go out to this individual and anyone who is suffering from depression.  If you feel that someone you know is in imminent danger from a mental health issue, please call 9-1-1.

Regional Mental Health also has a hotline for less imminent emergency situations.  That number is 219.769.4005.  You can get more information on how to get help for yourself or a loved one on the at Regional Mental Health website.

John Doe Homicide in Gary

4 Nov

by Ken Davidson

 

The office of Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey has confirmed a homicide at 2700 Maryland today.  The only details available were that the victim was an unidentified black male and the cause of death was multiple stab wounds.  Anyone with information on the identity of the victim or the crime itself is urged to contact the Gary Police Department.

Gary Indiana

IHCDA Outlines $60M Plan to Demolish Abandoned Houses

28 Oct

by Ken Davidson

 

Karen Freeman-Wilson

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson addresses a crowd at IHCDA informational session

Representatives of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency tonight announced a plan to divert $60M from the Hardest Hit Fund to demolish abandoned homes throughout the state.  Under the plan, Indianapolis and Lake County would share in approximately $16M in federal funds.  The packed house at the Gary YWCA was led by State Senators Earline Rogers and Jim Merritt, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and IHCDA representatives.

IHCDA Coordinator Ryanna Binder presented a matrix to be used by local governments to request funds under the program.  Criteria such as habitability, number of police calls and potential uses for the vacant land would all be weighted and utilized to determine which houses are scheduled for demolition.

Lake County Treasurer John Petalas was present and stated that there are more than 10,000 vacant or abandoned homes in Gary which are in need of demolition.  This statistic may be flawed, however, as it apparently comes from a statistic prepared by the County which includes vacant lots.  Mayor Freeman-Wilson has stated it would cost approximately $6,600 per home for demolition.  The program would allow up to $15,000 for acquisition and demolition of properties.  Under the formula, Gary could demolish approximately 300 homes if the funds are distributed based on population.   Mayor Thomas McDermott, the Chair of the Lake County Democratic Party, has suggested the State provide $65M to Gary to demolish abandoned homes.

Officials stated the Federal Government would still have to approve the use of funds.  Submissions for demolition could begin as early as January if all approvals are obtained.  There were no representatives from other cities or towns in Lake County at the meeting although they would be eligible to vie for the funds.

During question and answer sessions, the comments primarily centered on city enforcement of codes and maintenance of abandoned properties as well as rights of way.

Jesse Jackson Jr. Reports to Prison

28 Oct

by Ken Davidson

 

Jesse Jackson, Jr. is officially inmate number 32451-016.  Jackson reported to prison without media attention today and is reportedly at the Butner Federal Prison.  Butner is a considered a “club fed” prison which is low security.  Jackson will be released from prison in about 20 months and then will be required to live for a period in a halfway house.  Sandy Jackson is scheduled to report to prison after Jesse Jackson, Jr. is released to assure that there is a parent available to care for the children.

11. JESSE L JACKSON JR 32451-016 48-Black-M UNKNOWN

FBI Week in Review 10/25/2013

28 Oct

Gazette Staff

 

HAMMOND, IN—The United States Attorney’s Office announced the following activity in federal court:

Dispositions:

Joshua Robinson, 23, of Lafayette, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 33 months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number. According to documents filed in this case, Robinson, who has an extensive criminal history consisting of juvenile adjudications and adult criminal convictions, burglarized a residence where a .20 gauge shotgun and a .223 caliber rifle were taken. After the firearms were stolen, Robinson and a co-defendant proceeded to take the serial number off one of the firearms in preparation of selling the firearms in Chicago, Illinois. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Tippecanoe County Police Department, and the Lafayette Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.

Che Williams, Jr., 21, of Gary, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 30 months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dean Lanter.

Ramon Salinas, Jr., 37, of East Chicago, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge Rudy Lozano to 210 months’ imprisonment and 25 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of distribution of child pornography. According to documents filed in this case, law enforcement conducted an online Internet investigation to identify those possessing and sharing child pornography. The investigation identified an IP address belonging to the Salinas residence sharing files containing material depicting minors under the age of 16 engaged in sexual acts or poses. A search warrant was executed at this residence where law enforcement found that Salinas possessed at least 60 videos depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Salinas also has a prior conviction for possession of child pornography in Marion County in 2005. This case resulted from an investigation by members of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Indiana State Police, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the Highland Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jill Koster.

James Urschel, 47, of Lafayette, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to three years of probation after pleading guilty to the felony offense of false impersonation of a federal officer. According to documents filed in this case, Urschel impersonated a Deputy United States Marshal while buying numerous firearms at Gander Mountain in Lafayette, Indiana. He would then pawn the guns at a local pawn shop for cash. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.

Charles E. Johnson, Jr., 33, of Gary, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 37 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of distribution of crack cocaine. According to documents filed in this case, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Johnson’s residence and found 17.9 grams of crack cocaine in a safe. Johnson had a felony conviction for dealing in cocaine in 2008 and was on probation for that offense when he was charged in this case. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation GRIT Task Force. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Chang-Adiga.

Daryl V. Johnson, 40, of East Chicago, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 180 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. According to documents filed in this case, Johnson has 15 prior felony convictions and nine misdemeanor convictions over a period of 18 years. Johnson was in a motor vehicle that was pursued by Hammond Police Department due to the occupants violating the seat belt law. After the vehicle fled from police, Johnson exited the vehicle and fled on foot. The police recovered a handgun from the route on which Johnson fled. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives HIDTA Task Force and the Hammond Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.

Regina Cabell, 39, of Lafayette, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge Rudy Lozano to 18 months’ imprisonment and $79,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to the felony offense of health care fraud—submitting a claim to Indiana Medicaid for providing a service to an Indiana Medicaid recipient to whom she did not actually provide the claimed service—and failing to file a federal income tax return for her gross income of $297,567 in the 2011 tax year. According to documents filed in this case, Cabell, d/b/a L&G Transportation, submitted approximately $96,600 in false claims to Indiana Medicaid for providing transportation services that did not actually occur. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the Internal Revenue Service. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diane Berkowitz.