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From Left Field

March 15, 2011

By BOB SHRALUKA
    Baseball star Reggie Jackson was Mr. October and former Adams County Prosecutor Dan Sigler is getting to be Mr. Special Prosecutor.
    Sigler is one of two special prosecutors who brought an indictment against Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White last week on seven felony counts, including charges of voter fraud, perjury, theft and financial fraud. White, elected to the post last November, has acknowledged that he voted in the wrong district that election, but has maintained for months — or since it was discovered — that it was an unintentional mistake.
    He is charged with theft for allegedly continuing to collect a salary from the town council after he was no longer eligible to serve on it. The financial fraud charge pertains to White’s allegedly lying under oath about his address on loan documents.
    Since White was a longtime Republican official in Hamilton County, including party leader until last year, two people were assigned to investigate claims against White: Republican John Dowd, a former Warren County prosecutor, and Democrat Sigler. Thus, if something were to be found and charges brought, there could be no legitimate claims of "politics."
    Sigler may have set or tied a record, serving as special prosecutor in two cases at the same time. And just to show he's not always the bad guy, he dismissed charges in the other cases.
    Onetime Hancock County Sheriff C.K. ‘‘Bud’’ Gray was arrested in early August amid an investigation into whether he had used public funds for personal use. Detective Brian Ellison was accused of taking money from public funds and told investigators he did so at Gray’s behest.
    Looking into the case after being named special prosecutor, Sigler announced in early February that he was dropping the obstruction of justice charge against Gray but would seek theft charges against Ellison.
    The White thing has gotten even deeper this week when Dowd and Sigler asked the Indiana inspector general to investigate whether White — after he became secretary of state — improperly accessed a report detailing evidence of alleged voter fraud against him.
    Sigler became well known via his first stint as a special prosecutor, some 27 or so years ago. Serving as Adams County's prosecutor at the time, Sigler was named special prosecutor to look into allegations of campaign finance irregularities by Fort Wayne Mayor Win Moses. That one got rather messy, but in 1985 Moses, like Sigler a Democrat, resigned to accept responsibility for "reckless disregard for campaign financing."
    In the end, tough, Moses won out. Eleven days after City Controller Cosette Simon took over for him, Democratic precinct committeepeople held a caucus and Moses was reelected to fill the seat he vacated. He served two more years and currently is a state representative — one of those spending time in Illinois.
    A famous bumper sticker at the time said, "Win Moses, a Mayor of Conviction."
    Special prosecutors, by the way, are chosen by a judge in the county where an alleged crime was committed. Sigler said that if the prosecutor in the county has some sort of conflict with the person or persons to be investigated, he or she will ask the judge to name a special investigator. Usually, the prosecutor will give the judge a list of names from which to choose.
    It's unusual to have two special prosecutors, one from each party, but in the case of White it was excellent strategy. White can hardly claim — with any legitimacy — political bias on the part of Dowd, a veteran Republican party official.

Some help from son
    A Chicago native, Sigler has been practicing law since 1974. He served five terms (20 years) as prosecutor here (1979-1999) and another eight years as Whitley County prosecutor. He is a member of the Bloom, Gates, Sigler and Whiteleather law firm in Columbia City.
    Son D.J. Sigler also is in a law firm in Columbia City and currently is Whitley County's deputy prosecutor.
    D.J., a Bellmont grad, has done quite a bit of the electronic work in the White case.
    His wife, Molly Meyer, is a dentist in Decatur and they reside in southwest Allen County, sort of in between Decatur and Columbia City.

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