Indicted elected officials face uncertain futures

2012-10-05T18:15:00Z 2014-01-09T13:52:03Z Indicted elected officials face uncertain futuresMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
October 05, 2012 6:15 pm  • 

An East Chicago public official faces a police internal affairs investigation, and council members from Hammond and Gary face possible removal from office in the wake of federal indictments announced this week.

East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker confirmed Friday his department will soon begin an internal investigation into the conduct of Juda Parks, who is a city police officer and a city councilman.

Parks, one of five current or former region public officials named in separate federal indictments Thursday, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns in 2008 and 2009.

Of the individuals indicted Thursday, Parks, Gary Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas and Hammond Councilman Alfonso Salinas are elected officials who still hold public office and face uncertain municipal futures.

Because Parks' charges, to which he already has filed a proposed guilty plea, are misdemeanors, he would be able to continue serving in his elected capacity on the East Chicago City Council if his plea is accepted by a federal judge.

However, because Parks has been named in a federal criminal indictment, the department will initiate an internal affairs investigation some time next week to determine Parks' future as a police officer, Becker said.

"It's disappointing to see an East Chicago police officer's name associated with any federal indictment," Becker said Friday. "We will review this matter and take whatever action is deemed necessary."

Two other elected officials indicted Thursday — Hammond Councilman Salinas and Gary Councilwoman Krusas — face federal felony charges. Under Indiana law, a conviction or guilty plea on those counts would strip them of their public offices.

Krusas' defense attorney, former Gary Mayor Scott King, pointed out Friday his client's charge of tax evasion does not include any allegations of wrongdoing within her public office.

"It's crystal clear there is absolutely nothing in the allegation having anything to do with her conduct in office," King said.

Krusas is charged in Hammond federal court with failing to file personal income tax returns dating back to 1991, including failure to pay taxes on a $232,680 inheritance she received in the 2009-10 tax year.

King acknowledged Friday a conviction on the felony charge would automatically strip his client of her public office.

Hammond Councilman Salinas would face the same fate if convicted on charges of accepting a $10,500 kickback from a city-hired contractor and four counts of failing to file tax returns.

And if Salinas is removed from office, it would be the second Hammond job from which he would be ousted.

In April, Salinas was fired from his position with the Hammond Streets Department for what Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has described as "conduct unbecoming of a city employee."

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