Former City-County Councillor Pleads Guilty in Investment Scam
Former Indianapolis City-County Councilman Paul Bateman has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges.
Bateman admitted to being involved in taking over $1.7 million from an Indianapolis doctor. The money was supposed to be used for humanitarian work by the Russell Foundation, but was actually used to buy jewelry, cars, travel and other personal expenses.
Russell Foundation director Michael Russell pleaded guilty to 20 counts of the same charges last week. 53-year old Manuel Gonzalez, the foundation's former Chief Financial Advisor, faces three counts of wire fraud and money laundering. He's set to stand trial on February 11th.
U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett says Russell met the doctor during a medical appointment in early 2007. The victim initially gave the foundation over $700,000 to be used to invest in the Indiana Ethanol Capital Investments, which was organized in February, 2007, and listed Bateman as it's President and COO. Russell also admitted that Bateman allegedly accepted checks from the victim and deposited the money into Bateman's personal account. Russell also told investigators that the three allegedly urged the victim to invest $1 million in a corporate bond for the Russell Foundation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Vaughn says Bateman's position on the City-County Council, and a high-ranking IMPD officer's involvement in the investment, was used to reassure the victim. Hogsett says Bateman has agreed to fully cooperate in any ongoing investigation, and to testify in a trial or grand jury. Russell's deal calls for him to serve nearly 5 years in prison, and Bateman to serve 5 to 6 1/2 years, but Judge Tanya Walton Pratt could increase, or decrease the sentences. Bateman will appear in court on May 2nd.