The city has terminated two Department of Metropolitan Development employees who were indicted earlier this week on federal fraud charges stemming from a bribery scheme involving the Indianapolis Land Bank.
The firings of 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; were announced Friday afternoon.
In addition, Mayor Greg Ballard said Friday that the city has hired an attorney to review city policies and coordinate communications about the Land Bank fraud scheme with federal authorities.
“I want the people of the City of Indianapolis to know that I continue to take the allegations against two former employees of the city very seriously,” said Ballard in a prepared statement. “Immediately after learning of the nature of the allegations, our team began conducting an internal review which when completed will be provided to the federal authorities.”
Walton and Hawkins were charged Tuesday along with three other men: David Johnson, 46, executive director of the Indiana Minority AIDS Coalition; Randall Sargent, 57, owner and president of New Day Residential Development; and Aaron Reed, 35, a friend of Walton's.
The five defendants each face three wire fraud charges with each charge carrying a potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Walton also is charged with three counts of bribery on an organization that receives federal funds, each of which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sargent and Reed are facing one count each of bribery.
“While a federal court will ultimately decide if these two young men (Walton and Hawkins) broke the law, the evidence presented in the indictment clearly indicates they violated the city’s ethics ordinance and failed to uphold the standards our city expects from its public servants,” Ballard said in the statement.
Ballard, a Republican, said the city has hired Forrest Bowman Jr., an Indianapolis attorney who has conducted internal investigations of state government as special counsel to three Indiana governors, all Democrats.
“We have and will continue to maintain an open dialogue with federal investigators,” Ballard said. “Mr. Bowman will help facilitate our communication and data requests with the United States Attorney’s office and to perform a forensic review of city policies and procedures in an effort to ensure we have the best practices in place to protect the public trust.”
Earlier this week, the DMD suspended all property transfers from the Land Bank while it reviewed recent and in-progress transactions.