LAKES OF THE FOUR SEASONS — A grand jury may no longer be needed in the investigation into alleged impropriety by the Lakes of the Four Seasons security force after a few witnesses came forward with information about the case, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said Thursday.
Allegations that the gated community's security guards were impersonating police was set to be heard by a grand jury on Thursday.
But Carter said the grand jury has been canceled and now his office is evaluating the witnesses' potential testimony to see if they can pursue criminal charges directly rather than through the grand jury process.
Carter previously told The Times he believed a grand jury was necessary to help sort through an "enormity of evidence" in the case.
The news of more witness testimony this week follows an extensive Indiana State Police investigation into the LOFS security force, in which they raided the security offices during a frigid, snowy day in November.
They seized evidence pertaining to controlled substances, impersonation of police officers, criminal confinement and other potential criminal offenses related to traffic stops by Four Seasons security, authorities said at the time of the raids.
A source with knowledge of the investigation in November confirmed the warrants were being served as part of a probe into reports of drunken driving and other offenses that were handled by Four Seasons security rather than police and then not reported to state or local authorities.
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In some cases, fines allegedly were assessed, payable to the gated community. In a number of cases, security guards allowed allegedly drunken drivers to find other means of transportation home after being pulled over, the source said.
Carter has declined to confirm any other details or intended suspects or targets of the grand jury or police probe.
Following the November state police raid, Lake County Sheriff Police Chief Bill Patterson said the Four Seasons security team was operating as a "quasi police force," and the sheriff vowed to step up patrols in the gated community, which features a golf course and boating and fishing lakes straddling the Lake and Porter county line near Winfield.
The November raid came on the heels of the state revoking the Four Seasons security force's use of restricted emergency lights on its vehicles. In that case, the Indiana Department of Transportation concluded that Four Seasons security vehicles were using improper lights reserved for police vehicles.