A former City-County Council member charged with attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe is set to go on trial next Tuesday in federal court in Indianapolis.
Lincoln Plowman, also a former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department major, is accused of using his official position to collect $6,000 for helping to grease the wheels for a new strip club.
Combined, the charges could result in up to 30 years in prison and a maximum $500,000 fine. Plowman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A grand jury indicted Plowman in September 2010. From August to December of 2009, the indictment says, 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 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.
He also served as majority leader of the council, a position now held by Michael McQuillen, also a Republican.
McQuillen said he hopes Plowman is exonerated of the charges.
“My feeling on this case is that he deserves his day in court to see if the charges are true or not,” McQuillen said. “If they are proven, it’s a horrible miscarriage of the public trust.”
Plowman is represented by local criminal defense lawyer Jim Voyles, whose high-profile clients have included Bob Knight, Dominic Rhodes, Mike Tyson and Al Unser Jr. Voyles did not return a phone call seeking comment on the trial.
Angela Mansfield, a council Democrat, said members have “moved on” from the year-old case.
“But it was a wake-up call for some people,” she said. “Some feel the need to have a sense of power and exert that power in other ways, and I see it from both sides of the aisle.”
In February 2010, 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.
According to court documents, Plowman met with three undercover FBI agents at the downtown Capital Grille on Dec. 22, 2009. A male agent posed as an out-of-state club owner who wanted to open a high-end strip joint in Indianapolis. Two female agents accompanying him acted as friends he had met during his visits to the city.
Prosecutors intend to call one of the female agents to testify during trial about a telephone conversation she had with Plowman on Dec. 10, 2009, the documents said.
Because of her undercover status, she’s been granted a protective order by Judge Larry McKinney that prevents defense lawyers from making statements that might reveal the location of her office and residence.
She plans to testify using her true name, but sketch artists who might be present at the trial will be ordered out of the courtroom during her testimony. She also has been permitted to enter and leave the courthouse through non-public entries, the protective order said.
Plowman’s jury trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the federal courthouse on East Ohio Street. The trial is expected to last 10 days.