PORTAGE — Porter County Prosecutor Gary Germann has been appointed to serve as special prosecutor in the criminal misconduct case involving Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer.
The decision was made by Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thode, who took on the case after it was passed over by judges in LaPorte County.
The special prosecutor was sought by defense attorney Scott King, who said Monday he was pleased by the judge's ruling.
King argued during a hearing last Tuesday that LaPorte County Prosecutor John Lake and his office have "a special interest" and conflict of interest in defending itself against accusations of conspiracy and political motives for pursuing the charges against the mayor.
Lake testified last week he did not pursue the case against fellow Democrat Meer for political reasons.
Lake's testimony came as 55-year-old Meer made an initial court appearance on criminal charges stemming from accusations of fabricating a story with Michigan City police in an attempt to clear his stepson from a separate criminal case and frame Lake as a conspirator in his son’s arrest.
Lake said he was only vaguely familiar with Meer's stepson, Adam Bray, before his arrest on drug and gun possession charges. Lake said he stays out of the dealings of the drug task force unless members need search warrants or until charges need to be filed.
"We don't direct investigations ever," he said.
Tim Richardson, commander of the LaPorte County Drug Task Force, testified he never had a conversation with Lake to target Meer.
He said just hours after Bray was arrested, Meer was on the phone with his stepson at the jail claiming that the arrest was politically motivated. This came prior to Lake even learning about the arrest, he said.
Meer pleaded not guilty to five felony counts of intimidation, a felony count of official misconduct as a public servant and two misdemeanor counts of false informing.
The incumbent Democratic mayor, who had been seen as a favorite to win reelection, lost the general election Nov. 5 to Duane Parry, a Republican. The defeat came just days after the criminal charges were filed against him.
Meer had opposed Lake's 2018 election.