HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS/WBBM) — Former East Chicago, Ind., Mayor George Pabey is going off to prison next month.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Pabey was sentenced Thursday to five years and a $60,000 fine by U.S. District Judge James Moody.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports
Pabey, 60, was convicted of stealing government money from his city, and using it to rehab his house in the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary. He then put the house on the market for twice what he paid for it.
In sentencing Pabey, Moody condemned the continuing public corruption in Lake County and East Chicago, saying that an example needed to be set with the former mayor that the government will not tolerate any theft of the public’s trust, no matter how much. The sentence was more than the 27 to 33 months recommended by federal sentencing guidelines and double the 30 months that co-defendant Jose Camacho received last month.
“Mr. Pabey focused his greed on the city of East Chicago, which was a perennial target of public corruption,” Moody said during the sentencing Thursday morning at the U.S. District Court in Hammond.
The judge read a list of 10 former elected officials or city employees from the Robert Pastrick administration who were convicted on corruption charges, all while Pabey was campaigning for and then serving as mayor. He cited a news story of Pabey’s first inauguration to the post, detailing how people put their trust in him after decades of public scandal.
Despite the many cases before him, Pabey still conspired with Camacho, former engineering supervisor for the city, to use city money and city workers to renovate the Miller Beach house, Moody said, all while the city was facing financial ruin and forced to lay off 50 employees among making other cuts.
“That demonstrates to me that a more severe sentence is absolutely necessary,” the judge said.
Pabey declined to speak during the hearing, instead keeping his eyes on his hands clasped together on the desk in front of him. He and a large crowd of supporters gave no reaction as Moody read the sentence, which was several years more than his attorney Scott King had sought.
Defense attorney Scott King said after the hearing that he would immediately appeal both the conviction and the sentence.
“We think it was unwarranted,” he said.
King added that he would asked the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to halt Pabey reporting to prison until the appeal is ruled on. Moody ordered Pabey to report to prison June 1. King has filed a notice to appeal already.
Before becoming mayor, Pabey previously served as police chief in East Chicago.
East Chicago committeemen picked Anthony Copeland to replace Pabey in October. Charlie Pacurer briefly served as interim mayor after Pabey’s conviction last year.
The Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire