Our regional FBI branch is a busy little hive of activity these days. With plenty of Republicans under the microscope. Not only are they conducting raids on Indianapolis businessmen who write very large checks to Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi ($150,000) and Governor Mitch Daniels ($50,000) but they are also looking into whether or not members of the Perry Township Constable’s Office run by Constable Roy Houchins was selling badges and using some of the loot for campaign funds. The following was on the IBJ Daily Wire:
FBI probes alleged bribery in Perry Township
A former deputy constable is expected to plead guilty to federal charges of conspiracy as part of an investigation into bribery in the Perry Township constable’s office. As part of the plea, Michael Sherfick is expected to tell federal investigators about others involved.
The investigation focuses on more than $30,000 worth of alleged bribes paid by local businessmen. In return, investigators say, the businessmen got deputy constable badges and police powers. He’ll also have to say whether any money was funneled into the political campaigns of constable Roy Houchins and other Marion County Republicans.
This isn’t the first we heard of this. You will remember back in the beginning of November WRTV-TV Channel 6 reported on the investigation into Sherfick selling badges:
…Perry Township Constable Roy Houchins said authorities are checking allegations that Sherfick used his position to order badges and then illegally sold dozens of them to people who weren’t law enforcement officers at $500 to $2,000 apiece.
“He ordered the badges. I never saw the badges he ordered,” Houchins said Friday.Houchins said he also has filed with state police a report alleging that Sherfick forged Houchins’ signature to obtain law-enforcement license plates for Sherfick’s personal SUV.
Sherfick has convictions on charges of sexual battery, impersonating a police officer and driving with a suspended license. Earlier this year, the Indiana Parole Board voted against his request to clear his criminal record.The sexual battery conviction — he pleaded guilty in 1994 in a case involving an Indianapolis woman — initially was on a class D felony charge.
He later successfully petitioned a court to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor and get his name removed from the state’s sex offender registry.Houchins said he made a mistake in hiring Sherfick.
“I didn’t know there was a bad apple in the bottom of the bushel,” Houchins said.
This Michael Sherfick guy had a great little scheme going. The Indianapolis Star reports the following details of his scam today :
The health insurance CEO ponied up $2,500; the owner of an electronics store handed over $5,000; and the CEO of a management consulting firm paid $6,000.
Former Perry Township Deputy Constable Michael Sherfick told them that the badges, as well as law enforcement IDs and parking placards, would get them into sports events, allow them to park anywhere, and get them discounts on goods and services.
Sherfick is now telling federal authorities how he did it.
Sherfick signed a plea agreement last week with the U.S. Department of Justice that would send him to prison for five years on a charge of conspiracy.
In exchange, the Justice Department gets Sherfick’s cooperation in the continuing investigation. Sherfick admitted that he sold the badges and credentials to at least nine Indianapolis business people for more than $30,000 in cash and checks from June 2005 to September 2007.
The plea agreement still must be approved by a judge. Authorities would not say what co-conspirators they might be after.
“All I can say is that it is an ongoing investigation,” said Justin V. Shur, of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C. He also wouldn’t identify the business owners, but the federal charging documents provided some description of who bought the credentials. Among them were:
» The owner of a restaurant and bar.
» The owner of a software company.
» A finance manager for a car dealership.
» A construction company owner.
The FBI has been investigating Sherfick since at least 2007. It isn’t uncommon for the Washington, D.C, office to handle local public corruption cases, said Tim Morrison, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Authorities said in court documents that Sherfick “targeted business persons” who “wanted to possess and exercise certain powers associated with law enforcement authorities.”
This just adds to Houchins pile of indiscretions that have come to be investigated. The Star continues:
Houchins is facing racketeering charges in state court related to a separate accusation.In June 2008, Houchins was charged with corrupt business influence and two counts of conspiracy to commit theft over his role in a plan to retrieve a former employee’s valuable guns from Indianapolis police. Sherfick also was charged with corrupt business influence, conspiracy to commit theft and forgery in the case.
Houchins said he is still awaiting trial. The state charges against Sherfick also are pending, but the special prosecutor in that case, Barry Brown, said they might be dropped as a result of the plea agreement in the federal case.
Sherfick’s attorney, James H. Voyles, was unavailable for comment.
Sherfick told the Justice Department that three companies that manufacture badges mailed them directly to his house.
We wonder a few things.
We wonder if the unusual steps of the FBI in DC getting involved might be because our prosecutor is so tainted by an ethics investigation and his campaign finance director Tim Durham being a multi-state Bernie Madoff Ponzi schemer.
We wonder who will prosecute? If the scheme is tied to Republican campaigns and the Marion County Republican Party then Brizzi will have to recuse himself and get a special prosecutor. Even more reason that he is lame duck.
We wonder how much of that money got redirected into campaigns. One quick search of the www.campaignfinance.in.gov shows the following contribution to State Senator Brent Waltz campaign. We know he will do the right thing and refund it immediately:
Michael S. Sherfick Individual – Direct 484 E. Carmel Dr. #375 $1,000.00 on 6/23/2006 to Carmel, IN 46032 Waltz for State Senate Committee