Philpot surrenders to Michigan federal prison facility

2013-03-19T21:00:00Z 2014-01-30T11:54:10Z Philpot surrenders to Michigan federal prison facilitySusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Former Lake County Clerk Thomas Philpot surrendered Tuesday at a federal prison in Michigan to begin serving an 18-month sentence imposed by the court last month.

Philpot's arrival was confirmed by James Dunn, executive assistant to the warden at the low- and minimum-security facility in Milan, Mich.

Milan is a facility of about 1,500 inmates located in southeastern Michigan, some 45 miles south of Detroit.

Philpot, 55, initially had been ordered to surrender April 3 to a federal facility in Pekin, Ill.

However, Dunn said a division within the Federal Correctional Institution makes the final determination.

"A lot of factors come into play," Dunn said.

"Taken into consideration are such factors as bed space and security concerns, taken into context with the judge's recommendation."

Dunn could not address the earlier surrender date, saying he assumed Philpot arrived as ordered.

"We generally don't have anyone arriving early," he said.

Philpot's defense attorney, Kerry Connor, did not return calls inquiring about the change in Philpot's placement.

Federal defendants usually serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, meaning Philpot likely will spend about 15 months in prison. Following his release from prison, he will spend two years on supervised release, similar to parole.

Philpot, a podiatrist and attorney, served 10 years as Lake County coroner and six years as county clerk between 1992 and 2012.

Federal prosecutors said Philpot began making plans to pocket bonuses from federal IV-D child support incentive money within months of taking office as county clerk.

Despite a warning from state Rep. Shelli Vandenburgh, D-Crown Point, then a deputy under Philpot, that the incentive money was meant only to compensate deputy clerks who recorded and accepted child support payments to needy children, Philpot drew up a list of bonus recipients. The bonuses included $24,000 paid to himself between 2004 and 2009.

Philpot and his lawyers argued he was misled by an opinion from his longtime attorney David Saks that the bonuses were legal, but prosecutors said Saks later admitted the opinion was in error because Philpot withheld important information from him.

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