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Mayor suspends land bank after indictments

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard on Wednesday suspended a city program that sells vacant and tax-delinquent properties, one day after federal prosecutors indicted two of its top officials for allegedly accepting bribes and kickbacks.

Ballard said he learned of problems at the Indianapolis Land Bank "when I got the phone call" just days before an FBI raid at the agency that promotes the redevelopment of vacant and tax-delinquent properties by selling them to private developers.

An eight-count indictment unsealed Tuesday afternoon alleges Reginald Walton, 29, assistant administrator of abandoned buildings for the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development; and John Hawkins, 27, a senior project manager for the agency, received bribes and kickbacks from the sale of properties to not-for-profits for as little as $1,000 apiece. Three other men also were indicted.

Asked how the alleged activities could have escaped his administration's oversight, Ballard said, "If you read the indictment, you can see how it was transacted — emails and texts and that sort of thing. We're obviously not privy to all of that."

Ballard said he placed the Land Bank's activities on hold while his administration reassesses procedures.

"We'll have to see what the feds do first," Ballard said.

Adam Thies, director of the Department of Metropolitan Development Director, said the Land Bank currently oversees about 1,200 properties.

Hawkins was Ballard's special assistant until he was transferred to the Department of Metropolitan Development early last year. Walton was close to Olgen Williams, the deputy mayor for neighborhoods, who said Tuesday that he had known Walton "since he was a little kid" growing up in the Haughville neighborhood on the city's near west side. Williams was the longtime director of Christamore House, a community service center in Haughville.

"There was a lot of disappointment because a lot of people saw these guys as young men of promise, full of opportunity," Ballard said. "And for some reason, it didn't happen."

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  • Reggie
    Mr. Walton likely made a mistake, but I am personally more interested in seeing everyone involved (*cough* investors/buyers *cough*) brought to justice. A quick search of health department cases on some of the properties listed says a lot! There are many more people culpable in this than just Reggie, and I hope he speaks out and doesn't let these thieves allow him to be the "fall guy."
  • Reggie
    I thought everyone was innocent until guilt was proven. Seems people have already convicted Reggie in the press. My nephew was a good kid and is a good man, more to this story im sure
    • No one was watching
      Why would u have young people in charge of a million dollar program with no oversight? I was trying to purchase properties from the land bank and could not get anyone in the department to respond to phone calls or emails. I complained to the mayors action line and never received a call back. There are far more wrong doings in the mayors office...no one is accountable!
    • More Info
      You can find more land bank material archived here... http://tinyurl.com/indylandbank
    • Take a Closer Look
      Mr. Walton was also involved with the Mayor's home demolition program. He was personally involved with "emergency" demolitions and selected contractors without obtaining competitive pricing. Is it possible that he was getting "kickbacks" from these contractors before he ramped up his activites with the Land Bank?
      • John Hawkins
        John Hawkins did work in the Mayor's Office. I don't know how he obtained that position, what he did there, or what his specific title was, but he was sent to DMD from the Mayor's Office. It has long been well known that Reggie Walton's relationship with Deputy Mayor Olgen Willians was the reason that he was given the job of Assistant Administrator. There are plenty of competent, dedicated, hard-working city workers of all races. Walton & Hawkins were in their positions because of a corrupt practice of appointing friends and political patrons to City jobs for which they aren't qualified, not because of their skin color.
      • Not Political,
        John Hawkins was not the Mayor's "special assistant" nor did he get this job due to his political connections. His lack of ability, (which includes his inability to spell check), did not deter his placement with DMD as there are quotas that need to be met. His placement was purely racially motivated, and that is a sad reality for all skilled and competent people of all races.
      • john
        No john claims he is working with the fbi. He has only shown us how mad he is his mom didn't get a piece of land to build her garden. Spare us with your impartial facts with emails that have no basis of a crime. Yawns at seeing that link on every news site john has learned to use while his extended stay was in haughville.
      • It's on the Mayor's Office
        Walton & Hawkins got their jobs because the Mayor's Office put them there. Insiders at DMD could tell you how little work they appeared to do, how unqualified they appeared to be for their positions, and how little time they spent in the office. Of the dozens of people I know in DMD, these two are only ones of which I'm aware who were placed into their jobs by the Mayor's Office. The public trust wouldn't have been violated and the City wouldn't have been embarrassed had the Mayor's Office allowed for competent, qualified individuals to be hired for these positions. Of all the people I've worked with at DMD, these two are the only ones of which I'm aware who were put in place by the Mayor's Office (aside from the director which is intended to be an appointed position). It's unfortunate that the supervisors of Walton & Hawkins were either unwilling or unsuccessful at standing up to the Mayor's Office in seeking to hire individuals based on merit and qualifications rather than political connections. (In full disclosure, I worked for the DMD until resigning in April, and I interviewed for the DMD position that was given to Mr. Hawkins.)
        • Facts?
          Facts are you post an email to a city official, you've zero indication as to her response, paint her as corrupt, despite not giving ANY context to what she may have respoded, blame Adam Thies for a problem that was created by Olgen Williams' placement of this dude into this role, and act like you're some sort of authority because your mom didn't get a property she wanted? These seem more like wildly out of control, baseless accusations than facts to me, but apparently you know better than anyone else, including the FBI, so we should be heeding your drivel? Whatever color anyone involved is, you can color me unconvinced that you have any idea what you're talking about.
          • Fire Maury not Adam Thies....
            OK. If Adam Thies is new then he SHOULD be clean. Let's hope. But who knows at this point. Fire Maury Plambeck. That's the problem when you hire thugs, we the public (the people who really count) don't know who or what to believe. More info - http://www.kubepharm.com/indylandbank/IndyLandBank.html
          • John Moore
            Maury Plambeck was the director when Reggie was placed in that role, not Adam Thies. Maury is still on payroll but was demoted earlier in the year.
            • Really
              So according to John G, since he's black he can call out haughville since of course haughville equal black so only black people can do that. He spent time in Haughville so he just knows. That very sentence just lacks common sense so you should probably be able to tell where I'm going with the rest of this. Whether or not the people arrested are guilty is up to a court of law (that whole due process) and yes, the FBI arrests innocent people all the time just like the state. Regardless of the outcome being from haughville <> thug. Since according to John, thug=haughville=black which means John would be a thug and considered as such yet will get upset if someone calls him that. Stop stereotyping.
              • evidence
                Since u are good at digging please dig up info on the properties these companies alledged purchased
              • hmmm
                All I can do is what the title says. I think ballard set this all up. He knew what those 2 were doing. I know that out of the 3 organizations mentioned 1 of them is innocent. Theyre victims to mr walton...just re read the stories and u will not find anything or any evidence to that organization as to them committing a crime. It just mentioned how many properties they purchased. I hope the FBI didn't move immaturely on some of these people because it could get ugly
              • Reggie's Comments
                I tried to buy a piece of property from the land bank and was approved until one of Reggie's buddies stepped in. Within hours of closing this is the response I recieved from this criminal!! "The land bank has the right to accept and reject/reconsider the sale of any and all property that we own. So at this time, I have to inform you that you are no longer considered for the sale of this property. I do apologize for any confusion; however, this is the decision of the land bank." RW
              • The FBI Checked the Facts...
                That's all well and good. I've lived in Indy my entire life. My family has been in Indy since 1907. I'm a Black guy from the fairgrounds area, Northside, so I can call out Haughville! I used to go to Christamore House, so I know Haughville! What I'm saying is 100% true, those guys ARE Haughville THUGS! The FBI does not arrest upstanding citizens. Adam Thies hired Haughville THUGS! IndyLandBank details here: http://www.kubepharm.com/indylandbank/IndyLandBank.html
                • Check Your Facts
                  There are plenty of folks that grew up in Haughville that have done quite well with their lives, Tom Zupanzic, used to work for the Colts and Louis Dezelan used to be the Fire Chief, two fine upstanding individuals that grew up in Haughville. Check you facts before making blanket statements.
                  • Problems with Land Bank Were Published in IBJ
                    "Ballard said he learned of problems at the Indianapolis Land Bank 'when I got the phone call' just days before an FBI raid at the agency that promotes the redevelopment of vacant and tax-delinquent properties by selling them to private developers." Ballard just learned of problems at the Land Bank right before the raid? Those problems were published in the IBJ six months ago! Certainly he knew about the story.
                  • Not Just Blacks...
                    Adam Thies should be fired or demoted bigtime if he was Reggie's boss. What does Adam do all day? How did he let this happen? Adam did not do his job. Adam Thies may have to be the fall guy in this, he is making the Mayor look bad. It wasn't just, "the Haughville Black guys," if Adam was overseeing the Indy Land Bank, HE has some MAJOR accountability in this scandal. Reggie should have never been in that position — why was he hired Adam? Adam Thies needs to make sure my Mother gets that land Reggie Walton, Doris Jones and Carrie Bainszewski took from her. My Mother was cheated out of property due to Reggie's greed. Adam is Reggie's boss. Here is some of the information: http://www.kubepharm.com/indylandbank/IndyLandBank.html
                  • Investigate How They Got Their Jobs
                    How was John Hawkins qualified to even hold this position? Take a look at his LinkedIn profile. It is filled with spelling and grammar errors. Link: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-hawkins/51/a61/104 He was managing a clothing store prior to going to work for the city. Someone needs to answer for why a poorly educated person with no experience held that job.
                  • Haughville Thugs
                    These guy were thugs — they grew up in freaking Haughville! Smh, sigh. If the mayor needs/wants "quality" Black Hoosiers who are NOT corrupt, give me a call — I know plenty. Land bank info here - http://www.kubepharm.com/indylandbank/IndyLandBank.html

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