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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Prosecutor named in lawsuit

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

* Suit alleges 78 prosecutors have violated state law

Clay County Prosecutor B. Lee Reberger is one of 78 prosecutors statewide named in a lawsuit recently filed by Indianapolis law firm Roberts and Bishop.

The lawsuit alleges the prosecutors violated state law by holding on to seized assets rather than turning them over to the Indiana Common School Fund, a fund which allows money to be loaned to schools across the state for construction and technology projects.

The case was filed earlier this year, but not unsealed until last week in Marion Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleges the 78 prosecutors "have regularly violated the Indiana False Claims Act, Indiana Code 5-11-5.5-1, by for years failing to turn over proceeds from the amount of law enforcement costs to the Treasurer of the State of Indiana for deposit in the common school fund as required by IC 34-25-1-4."

The listed plaintiff in the case is Adam Lenkowsky, an attorney for Roberts and Bishop.

According to the lawsuit, Lenkowsky is alleging that millions have been "kept by law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and private attorneys hired by prosecutors to file civil forfeiture actions, money that was required to be paid into the common school fund as required by Indiana law."

In the suit, Lenkowsky is asking that money for the last two years -- an approximately amount of $17 million -- be refunded into the school fund.

Chris Gambill, forfeiture attorney for Clay, Greene, Parke, Putnam, Owen, Vermillion and Vigo counties told The Brazil Times Tuesday morning he believes all seven counties he represents are in compliance with the law.

"We strictly comply with what we're required to do anytime we obtain a judgment," Gambill said.

He added file information regarding forfeiture in the seven counties were requested by the plaintiff and permission was given to visit all seven prosecutors' offices to inspect the records.

To date, Gambill said he was told none of the records have been inspected.

"(The plaintiff) is basically accusing 78 prosecutors of committing fraud," Gambill said. "When you file an allegation of fraud, you have to say specifically what kind of conduct (the accused) engaged in.

"There is no allegation in the complaint citing fraudulent conduct of any prosecutor."

The case now rests in the hands of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who has a handful of options. Zoeller may take over the suit and litigate on behalf of the state; choose to defend the prosecutors; dismiss the lawsuit; or not intervene.

On Tuesday, Gambill said he recently learned Zoeller has plans to defend the prosecutors named in the suit.

"It is my understanding that this will happen," Gambill said.

Ninety prosecutors were initially named in the suit, but filings against 12 were dismissed.

Gambill said he believed some areas of the forfeiture act need to be "clarified."

"I know I have called for those improvements," he said.

Gambill has worked in forfeiture law for approximately 13 years and has worked with Clay County for close to seven years.

When reached, Reberger would not comment. Officials with the county prosecutor's office asked that all comments be directed to Gambill.

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