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Another East Chicago official heads to prison

Today isn’t likely to be a pleasant one for George Pabey.

But heading to prison never is.

The disgraced former mayor of East Chicago, Ind., is scheduled to check in at the Oxford Correctional Facility, about 60 miles north of Madison, Wisconsin.  Pabey resigned as mayor in December after a federal jury convicted him of stealing public funds three years ago.

He illegally used about $7,000 worth of public funds to fix up a home he owned with his daughter in the Miller Beach neighborhood in the adjacent city of Gary. Pabey also got a few of his city employees to do the work on city time.  All total, the tab came out to about $13,000 in public funds and manpower. Not a lot of money but enough for federal investigators to go after Pabey.

Pabey was convicted, along with Jose Camacho, a city department head.  U.S. District Judge James Moody sentenced Pabey in March to five years in prison.  

Pabey’s defense attorney Scott King failed to convince Moody that his client should be allowed to avoid incarceration while he appeals in conviction.  King, the former mayor of Gary, also couldn’t get the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in favor of Pabey.

Pabey was voted into office in 2004, becoming the predominately Hispanic city’s first Hispanic mayor.

He’s the latest East Chicago official to serve time for corruption.  No less than a dozen city officials - or those with strong ties to the city - have been convicted in the last seven years.  A small, industrial city, East Chicago historically has been the epicenter of all things politics - dirty or otherwise - in Northwest Indiana.

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