A federal grand jury has indicted a city-county councilor and two associates in an alleged wire fraud and money laundering scheme dating back to 2008.
The investigation centers around District 11 Councilor Paul C. Bateman, Jr. and The Russell Foundation, an organization dedicated to linking Indianapolis and Gary, Ind. with a light rail system.
The FBI became involved with the investigation as the foundation was in the middle of a $1 million plus bankruptcy.
At the time, there were reports high-ranking Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department command officers may have been questioned about their involvement with Bateman and the foundation. However, the FBI did not comment on the IMPD’s involvement in the matter.
Democrat Councilor Paul C. Bateman Jr., Michael L. Russell, founder of the Russell Foundation, and Manuel Gonzalez who held various positions at the foundation are accused in the indictment with defrauding an Indiana physician in his 70’s of about $1.7 million and using it for personal expenses.
The money was allegedly used for entertainment, clothing, jewelry, traveling expenses, vehicles, home furnishings and elaborate security detail, which included members of IMPD. The purchases were mainly made in 2007. The indictment stated $1 million was spent in 33 days.
According to the indictment documents, Russell is accused of approaching the victim and soliciting an investment into Indiana Ethanol Capital Investments. The indictment alleges Russell, Bateman and Gonzalez never repaid the victim any portion of the $1 million cash bond nor the $702,000 initial investment.
Councilor Bateman is reportedly facing 10 counts of money laundering. Russell is accused of eight counts of wire fraud and 12 counts of money laundering. Gonzalez is accused of three wire fraud counts and two counts of money laundering.
According to The Star report, each count of wire fraud can carry up to a 20 year sentence and money laundering carries a 10 year sentence.
Fox59 spoke with Bateman Wednesday who released the following statement:
““I have to believe that the truth is stronger than the lie and the justice system will work for people like me.”
At a press conference Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett said the Indiana physician defrauded of more than $1 million never profited from investments.
“This indictment is another example of this office’s dedication to ending a culture of corruption that has no place in Indianapolis or anywhere else in this state,” said Hogsett. “This office will find you, we will investigate you and will hold you accountable.”
Bateman’s attorney released the following statement following the press conference:
“Today the US Attorney’s Office announced that Paul C Bateman Jr, City County Councilman for the 11th District has been indicted for allegedly violating federal laws. Mr. Bateman has not seen the indictment. However, through his Attorney Rick Jones, he has made contact today with Assistant US Attorney Joe H Vaughn to discuss the case. Mr. Bateman has not violated any federal or state laws and he looks forward to his day in court to defend against the allegations in the indictment. Once the truth is presented, Mr. Bateman is confident that justice will prevail and he will be acquitted of all charges. For the past six years, Mr. Bateman has been a tireless public servant working to improve the lives of the residents of District 11 and Indianapolis residents as a whole. Mr. Bateman would never betray the trust the residents of Indianapolis has placed on him.”