Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Hogsett Expands His Focus White-Collar Crime in Sights

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Hogsett Expands His Focus White-Collar Crime in Sights

Article excerpt

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett is promising to bring to bear the same zeal he focused on guns, drugs and gangs in 2011 to white collar crime and political corruption in 2012. Since his appointment in October 2010 - filling a three-year vacancy in the chief federal law enforcement office for Southern Indiana - Hogsett has taken an activist approach to his job, riding along with local police officers and doubling the number of criminal indictments over the previous year.

In the year and three months since he took the reins, Hogsett said, he has visited each of the 60 counties that comprise the federal court system's Southern District of Indiana, including 16 visits to Evansville.

It is a district that stretches from the state capital of Indianapolis to the Ohio River, including the urban areas of Evansville, Jeffersonville-New Albany and Terre Haute in addition to more rural communities such as his native Rush County. "I can't say to you I am aware of widespread public corruption or that I believe the majority of elected officials are corrupt," he said. "But in the last 10 years there have not been very many public integrity cases initiated in the Southern District of Indiana. So we either have, in 60 counties, the most honest, forthright public officials anywhere on earth or somebody is asleep at the switch."

In fact, Hogsett said he believes public officials are by and large well-meaning and hardworking, making the best decisions they can.

"I think for the most part that is the rule, not the exception. My job is to find the exception to the rule," he said.

And based on what he has seen so far, Hogsett said he believes there is good reason to think there is more to be found.

The U.S. attorney's office spent much effort carrying out and publicizing its Violent Crime Initiative in 2011, with impressive results, but cases of corruption and white collar crime didn't take a back seat. Several large-scale cases of health care fraud, money laundering, theft by public employees and investment fraud resulted in indictments or concluded with convictions in 2011, although many of the cases were initiated before he took office.

Among them was the March charging of three former executives of Fair Financial Company, an Ohio financial services business, for their roles in what federal prosecutors said was a scheme to defraud about 5,000 investors of more than $200 million between February 2005 and November 2009.

Locally, in October, the U.S. attorney's office announced a payment of more than $1 million by Gibson General Hospital in Princeton, Ind., to settle a federal lawsuit after prosecutors said it participated in a billing arrangement with an outpatient surgery center that resulted in Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

"It's not as if this is some new concept that Joe Hogsett has come up with. …

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