An unidentified FBI agent loads files into a van outside the Calumet Township Trustee office Thursday afternoon. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 29, 2014 6:23AM
GARY — Federal and state agents swept through Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin’s office Thursday morning as they executed a search warrant.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Robert Ramsey said Indiana State Police investigators and agents from the IRS and FBI were at 610 Connecticut St. as part of an ongoing investigation. He declined to say more about the nature of the case or when the investigation began. The warrant is sealed at U.S. District Court in Hammond, he said.
Township employees could stay at their desks or take their personal belongings and leave, Ramsey said. No one there was detained.
Elgin is in her third term in office. She could not be reached immediately for comment.
Former Calumet Township Trustee Dozier Allen Jr., who held the office for 32 years, and two deputies were convicted in April 2009 on mail fraud charges. The three — Allen, Ann Karras and Wanda Joshua — were convicted of taking about $143,000 from a state grant that was meant to pay a contractor. Each was sentenced to prison.
In recent years, Griffith, a part of Calumet Township, has fought to leave the township. The town claims it puts in far more revenue than it gets back in services.
The chasm got deeper earlier this year when Calumet Township filed a federal lawsuit against the state’s Department of Local Government Finance. It claims a recent state law allowing Griffith to secede from the township is unconstitutional.
House Bill 1585, passed last year, allows Griffith to secede if the township can’t reduce the property tax rate that funds Calumet Township’s assistance to less than 12 times the average of the state’s 1,008 other townships.
If the township doesn’t meet the tax rate put forth by the bill, the state would oversee the township’s finances. If that fails, the state would allow Griffith to hold a secession referendum in 2016. Two-thirds of town residents would have to approve for the town to secede.
In December, Gary Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson announced that she would challenge Elgin in the Democratic primary election in May.
At the time, Elgin, who defeated Allen in 2002, told the Post-Tribune that she wasn’t ready to leave office.
“I have some unfinished business,” Elgin said, citing legislation passed in 2013 that may limit the revenue her office collects from Griffith. “I feel very strong about the township, township assistance, and helping the needy.
“I feel very comfortable about what I’ve accomplished, but to leave that unfinished, I think that’s a battle we have not finished yet.”