By BOB SHRALUKA
Dan Sigler was back at work Monday in his Columbia City law office after a dramatic weekend in which the state official he was prosecuting was found guilty by a jury — a verdict Sigler learned of at his home while in bed recuperating from the flu.
"Everyone's calling today to see if they're in my will," Sigler laughed over the telephone.
The former five-term (1979-1999) Adams County prosecutor and Decatur attorney was the lead prosecutor in the Charlie White case. A Hamilton County jury deliberated for 13 hours starting late Friday afternoon before convicting Republican Secretary of State Charlie White on six felony charges, including fraud, perjury and theft.
After final arguments were given by the attorneys involved, the jury got the case and returned its verdict around 2 a.m. It was during the final arguments that Sigler had to leave the courtroom and eventually went to the hospital by ambulance.
His son, DJ, a Bellmont High School graduate, helped finish the prosecution's closing arguments.
"I didn't know I had the flu I had been working long hours on the case and wasn't feeling good, but I thought it was a reaction to some food," Sigler said Monday. "I thought I could fight through it. But I got light-headed so I left the courtroom by a side door trying not to attract any attention.
"When I got outside, though, I started shaking. I had never had a medical issue and begin to think I was strokin' out. I had (a court employee) call my wife, Sheri. She took one look at me and said, 'You're going to the hospital right now.' Then they called the ambulance.
"So I'm trying to get out of there without attracting any attention. Yeh, well, that didn't work so well," he laughed.
Once an IV began pumping fluids into him, Sigler said, he started feeling better. So he went back to the courtroom to await the verdict. "But the judge finally told me to go home, which I did. Got home around 1 a.m. and got a text from DJ around 2 a.m. on the verdict. That's the first time I ever got a verdict in bed."
Sigler is a partner in the Columbia City law firm of Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather. He primarily works as a civil litigator and as a mediator, but has served as a special prosecutor in other high-profile cases, such as in the 2007 Fort Wayne case of Matt Kelty, who wound up pleading guilty to felony charges of violating Indiana's campaign finance laws.
Sigler's first case as a special prosecutor came in 1984 while he was prosecutor in Adams County. The case saw Fort Wayne Mayor Win Moses indicted on charges his campaign organization failed to report its donations to Republican sheriff candidate Boris Jeremenko in 1982. Moses pleaded guilty in July of 1985 and resigned from office. But he was back in office 11 days later, after a caucus of Democrat precinct officials — charged with selecting a new mayor — decided to keep him on, anyway.