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Trial of Indiana secretary of state gets under way

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Indiana's top elections official signed documents showing he was living at an address different than one he listed on voting records, witnesses testified Tuesday as prosecutors began building their case in a trial that could cost Secretary of State Charlie White his job and his freedom.

White faces charges of fraud, perjury and theft. A conviction on even one of the seven felony counts would force his removal from the politically powerful office.

As the trial began, defense attorney Carl Brizzi tried to sow doubt in jurors' minds that White is guilty of any of the charges.

Special prosecutor Dan Sigler Sr. brought in a cart with 11 boxes of evidence, including key cellphone records that he said in his opening argument would show White wasn't living in the address on his voting records.

Prosecutors claim White used his ex-wife's address on his voter registration form in the May 2010 Republican primary when he actually had a condo elsewhere with his fiancee. They also allege he collected his $1,000-per-month Fishers Town Council salary after moving out of that district.

"This case is about deceit and cheating," Sigler told jurors at the Hamilton County Courthouse in the Noblesville, about 20 miles north of Indianapolis. "Somebody tried to get away with something. ... Somebody got caught."

But Brizzi told jurors there was no evidence anyone was harmed or that he was ineligible to vote.

"Their entire case is based on supposition and innuendo," Brizzi told jurors during his opening argument. "You're not going to be convinced of anything beyond a reasonable doubt except that they want to get him."

The state's first four witnesses were a human resources officer at an Indianapolis law firm White went to work for in 2010 and the sales agent, builder and mortgage closing officer involved in his purchase of the condo that year. They testified that White listed the home located well outside his council district as his primary residence on employment and loan documents or that they saw him arriving or leaving there.

Brizzi tried to poke holes in the state's case, asking the witnesses if prosecutors had asked them to lie or if they had made up any of their testimony. Sales agent Tammi Kaeser testified she understood White was going to move into the town home in November 2009 — long before White changed his address on voting records — but did not know for a fact whether he did or simply let his future wife, Michelle, live there with her children.

"I'm not sure who moved in on the 13th," Kaeser said under cross-examination.

Sigler and fellow special prosecutor John Dowd used the witnesses to enter more than 25 documents central to their case that jurors were able to examine in the courtroom and jury room.

White, 42, has said the charges he faces ignore a complicated personal life in which he was trying to raise his 10-year-old son, plan his second marriage in May 2010 and campaign for the statewide office he won that November. He said he stayed at his ex-wife's house when he wasn't on the road campaigning and did not live in the condo until after his remarriage.

Prosecutors are expected to conclude their case Thursday.

White has resisted calls to resign from Democrats and Republicans, including Gov. Mitch Daniels.

A Marion County judge already has ruled that White should be ousted, but that decision has been appealed.

The same judge also said White should be replaced by Vop Osili, the Democrat he defeated in the November 2010 election by about 300,000 votes. But state law calls for Daniels to appoint a successor.

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  • Caught One
    We finally caught a person who committed voter fraud, only to find out he is White.
  • Whewwww!
    Good thing the Republicrat legislature passed
    those voter fraud measures a few years ago.
    We finally caught somebody!!!!!!!!!!

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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