Lake County Sheriff Indicted On Corruption Charges
HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) _ The sheriff of economically depressed Lake County has been indicted on charges of racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, conspiracy and embezzlement of federal funds.
Sheriff Rudy Bartolomei, who once declared a moratorium on mortgage foreclosure evictions in the county, was named in the 15-count indictment, unsealed Monday but returned secretly Friday. His wife, Dorothy, also was indicted on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and embezzlement.
The indictment alleges that from 1977 to November 1983, when Bartolomei became sheriff, he used his position as Lake County commissioner to extort kickbacks from county employees.
Some of the payments involved a ″2 percent fund″ in which employees were required to donate 2 percent of their gross salaries for political purposes, the indictment said.
Bartolomei, 61, also extorted other payments in exchange for promotions and pay raises, the indictment said.
Bartolomei allegedly had Dorothy Gillham, who was then building coordinator at the Lake County Government Center, collect the 2 percent payments. The indictment said Bartolomei extorted money from Ms. Gillham regarding a pay raise she was to receive.
He also is accused of using county supplies and employees to have political signs made for him when he ran for re-election as county commissioner in 1980.
Other charges said he ordered county employees to perform personal duties for him, including repairs to his personal residence in Gary, to a family- owned cottage on Lake Michigan, and to a store his mother owned in Glen Park.
Mrs. Bartolomei is charged with using the U.S. mail to bill the county for personal repair work.
The indictment also accused the couple of putting their personal maid on the county payroll, although she never performed any work for the county.
Bartolomei declared the moratorium on evictions soon after he took office following his election as sheriff in October 1983.
″I think it’s the least we can do for the guys who are unemployed, especially veterans and people who have been working all their lives, who had jobs and who through no fault of their own because of this crisis in the economy, lost them,″ Bartolomei has said.