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CROWN POINT — A man charged in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a state witness in 2010 will get to talk to a detective about allegations his former attorney stole money from him.

Ronnie E. Major, 48, appeared before Lake Criminal Court Judge Samuel Cappas on Friday with attorney Jamise Perkins.

Major paid his former attorney Larry Rogers a "substantial sum of money" to act "as a conduit" for Major to bring an attorney from Illinois into the case, she said.

Rogers, a well-known defense attorney, began serving a 90-day disciplinary suspension from his law practice Dec. 14 for failing to pay back $8,000 to the family of a Porter County defendant he agreed to represent on appeal.

Major was told by jail staff he would need a judge's order to talk to a detective about Rogers, Perkins said.

Rogers did not provide the services promised to Major, who been unable to recover the money, Perkins said. Major needs the money to continue to retain a private attorney, she said.

Cappas said, "That's the first time I've heard that."

The judge said Major had a right to report a possible crime and ordered the Lake County Sheriff's Department to send a detective to talk to Major.

Rogers did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and could not be reached by phone.

Three grievances remain pending against Rogers before the Indiana Supreme Court, records show. The attorney this week was granted more time in one of the cases to show why he should not face another suspension.

Major, Antoine J. Gates and Michael A. Rivera were charged in Lake Criminal Court in December 2016 with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shooting of 31-year-old Jocelyn Blair the morning of Dec. 19, 2010, at Charlie's Coney Island restaurant, 2490 Broadway. 

Gates allegedly shot the woman on behalf of Major, who wanted the woman dead before she could testify against him at trial in an attempted murder case.

Cappas rescheduled Major's trial for July 8.

Gates is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 25.

Rivera was ordered released March 5 to the Lake County Community Corrections' Kimbrough Work Release Program while awaiting trial.


Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.