Fighting corruption, job one for David Capp

January 21, 2011

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Political veterans and a crop of newcomers are signing up to run for office in Indiana’s May 3rd primary.  It’s an interesting time for David Capp, the U.S. Attorney for Northern Indiana.

Those who get elected could potentially become Capp’s next targets.

Northwest Indiana, specifically Lake County, has a penchant for electing corrupt politicians. And Capp has a penchant for sending them to prison.  Since 1985, Capp has had a hand in prosecuting some of the biggest names in Northwest Indiana politics, most of that time as an assistant U.S. attorney.

 In April, Capp was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney for Northern Indiana, a district that’s based in Hammond and includes the cities of Gary, South Bend, Fort Wayne and Lafayette.  Given the propensity for elected and appointed officials to get into trouble “da Region,” Capp said there will be no let up in rooting out public corruption.

“Our office will continue to vigorously pursue public corruption,” Capp said Thursday night in Hammond, Ind.

Capp gave a rare public speech before members of the League of Women Voters – Calumet Area Chapter at Woodmar United Methodist Church.  Capp mostly spoke about the inner workings of his office and went over his long career in criminal justice.

Capp started his career with a bang in 1985, working for then-U.S. Attorney Jim Richmond who is considered a legend in Northwest Indiana.  Richmond initiated “Operation Lights Out,” which saw a number of elected Lake County government officials convicted in a sort of “pay to play” scheme.

The next wave of scandals came during “Operation Restore Integrity” which began in 2002 by former U.S. Attorney Joseph Van Bokkelen. Serving as Van Bokkelen’s first assistant U.S. attorney, the operation saw the convictions of several city and county officials. A major portion of the operation was the indictment of Sidewalk 6 in East Chicago. A number of East Chicago officials were swept up because of their involvement in the illegal spending of more than $20 million in public funds on an ill-fated public works project.

When Van Bokkelen stepped down two years ago to become a federal judge, Capp took over as interim U.S. Attorney before being confirmed.

In his short time at the helm, Capp’s already secured a major victory: The conviction of East Chicago Mayor George Pabey.