CROWN POINT — A special prosecutor said Thursday he found no evidence a former Lake County sheriff menaced a Lake Superior Court judicial officer last month in an argument over election politics.
Rogelio “Roy” Dominguez said Thursday he is pleased to be cleared of what he considered to be politically motivated allegations surrounding his argument with Magistrate Catheron Paras in her judicial chambers.
“I’ve always conducted myself as a gentleman. So I’m particularly pleased, and feel vindicated, by the special prosecutor’s decision,” Dominguez said in a prepared statement.
Stanley M. Levco, a senior state prosecuting attorney, said, “I didn’t think he did anything criminally. There certainly wasn’t any evidence he touched her. There wasn’t any battery. There certainly wasn’t any confinement. That (office) was her place. I looked at the statutes. I just didn’t think there was anything that applied.”
Paras couldn’t be reached Thursday for comment.
Dominguez, who served as county sheriff from 2002 to 2006, said, “It has always been my position that the allegations made against me are a complete fabrication. They never happened, and they were made maliciously and purely for political purposes. I have worked long and hard to establish a positive reputation over my years in practicing law and politics.”
He faulted Magistrate Paras and Sheriff John Buncich, his longtime political rival.
Buncich couldn’t be reached Thursday for comment. He has served as sheriff from 1995 to 2002. Buncich ran unsuccessfully against Dominguez in 2006. Buncich was again elected sheriff in 2010 and 2014.
Levco said, “When a judge makes a complaint, you almost have to have somebody independent look at it. The fact a special prosecutor was appointed was appropriate.”
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The allegations arose from the impassioned campaign for Lake Circuit Court judge that found the county’s Democratic Party leaders choosing sides between incumbent Judge George C. Paras, who was seeking re-election, and his challenger, Marissa McDermott, wife of Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.
Magistrate Catheron Paras is Judge George Paras’ wife. She and Buncich supported the incumbent judge. Dominguez sided with Marissa McDermott despite his past feud with her husband.
That tension boiled over the morning of April 13 when Dominguez appeared in Lake Superior Court, County Division, representing a client in a minor criminal matter.
Dominguez said Magistrate Paras stepped down from the bench and summoned him to her private office. He said she lectured him about opposing her husband and supporting Marissa McDermott. He said he told her to stop interjecting politics into a judicial proceeding and left her chambers.
Magistrate Catheron Paras called the Sheriff’s Department to complain that Dominguez had screamed and advanced in a threatening manner, and she was only able to avoid him when her court bailiff intervened.
County police Detective Michelle Dvorscak stated in her report, “Magistrate Paras did appear to be upset as she related this incident to detectives and stated several times that she was frightened that Rogelio Dominguez might attempt to harm her.”
The Sheriff’s Department forwarded the results of its investigation to Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter. Carter, who is a political ally of Dominguez, called for the Lake Superior Court to appoint a special prosecutor. Levco was named to the case May 2 and officially declined to bring any charges in a letter dated Monday.
Marissa McDermott defeated Judge George Paras in the May 3 Democratic primary.