Federal prosecutors Thursday charged a former City-County Council member in what they say was a scheme to use his official position to collect $6,000 for helping to grease the wheels for a new strip club.
Lincoln Plowman, also a former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department major, faces federal charges of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe. Combined, those charges could result in up to 30 years in prison and a maximum $500,000 fine.
In a federal indictment, officials say from August to December last year Plowman solicited an undercover FBI agent to pay him $5,000 in cash and make a $1,000 campaign contribution in exchange for Plowman’s help with the strip club zoning.
Plowman, a Republican who was elected to the council in 2003, was a member of the council’s Metropolitan Development Committee, which recommends appointments to the Board of Zoning Appeals. That board reviews petitions for zoning law variances.
In February, Plowman was put on paid administrative leave from his IMPD job while he was under FBI investigation. He resigned from the police force and the council about a month later as the leave was ending. Plowman faced potential suspension without pay from the department, a step toward termination.
Aaron Freeman was selected by Republican precinct committee members to fill Plowman’s seat representing the city’s southeast-side.
Some council members said Thursday they were glad the case has some resolution but questioned whether Plowman misused his authority in other ways.
“He obviously got caught this time, [but] were there other incidents that we didn’t know about?” said Angela Mansfield, a council Democrat who called for Plowman to disclose the nature of his investigation before he resigned from public office. “It put a cloud over the council.”
But both Mansfield and Republican Council President Ryan Vaughn said they don’t think the allegations necessitate more stringent laws to regulate council ethics.
“At the end of the day, you have to elect people with integrity, or you’re going to get people who are acting unethically,” Vaughn said. “I’m thankful he stepped down from public office so this isn’t an issue that we as a council have to address going forward. It’s more of an issue for him now.”
Mayor Greg Ballard concurred.
"We hold all of our public, elected officials to the highest standards and expect them to conduct themselves with integrity in a manner in which they never abuse their power or influence,” he said.
A Department of Justice spokeswoman Thursday said no initial hearing before a U.S. magistrate judge in the Southern District of Indiana has been set.