Indiana News

Ex-Councilman Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years for Fraud

Bateman pleaded guilty to spending investor's funds on personal items

5/20/2013


U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett (left) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Vaughn speak after the sentencing of ex-City-County Councillor Paul Bateman. (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)

A former Indianapolis city-county councillor has been sentenced to 2 1/4 years in prison for his role in swindling an Indianapolis doctor.

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Paul Bateman apologized in court to his family for "bringing shame" to them, and to Dr. Arthur Sumrall, who invested $1.7 million in a supposed ethanol project backed by the Russell Foundation.

Instead, federal prosecutors say Bateman and foundation creator Michael Russell burned through a million dollars in 33 days, and spent Sumrall's money on personal items from cars to Bateman's tax bill.

Both men pleaded guilty. Russell was sentenced to 5 3/4 years in prison last week.

A third defendant was acquitted. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Bateman's cooperation with investigators and acceptance of responsibility may have saved him as much as five years of prison time.

Bateman said in court it took him nearly a year to realize the money the foundation raised was going to other purposes. By that point, he testified, "My name was on everything." He says he was counting on another investor to allow him to pay back Sumrall "and get the heck otu of there."

A Democratic caucus elected Bateman to complete the term of Steve Talley when Talley resigned in 2006. He won a full term in 2007, but abandoned his 2011 reelection bid when Talley returned and defeated him at the party's slating convention. Bateman was indicted less than two weeks before leaving office.

Bateman is the second council member sentenced to prison in two years. Republican ex-councillor Lincoln Plowman was sentenced to 3 1/3 years for bribery in 2011.

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