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Explosive developments in the federal wiretapping investigat

Re: Explosive developments in the federal wiretapping invest

Postby Happy Mom » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:16 am

Legal bills in South Bend police wiretapping case top $1 million
City spends another $800K on settlements

By Lincoln Wright South Bend Tribune Nov 13, 2017 Updated 22 min ago (2)

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Legal bills in South Bend police wiretapping case top $1 million
Darryl Boykins, from left, Tim Corbett, Dave Wells, Brian Young and Steve Richmond have all made legal settlements with the city of South Bend regarding wiretapping at the South Bend Police Department. The city and common council legal fees in the police tape litigation combined now total more than $1 million.
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SOUTH BEND — The city and Common Council have spent more than $1 million on legal fees in the ongoing police wiretapping case, which still doesn’t have an end in sight.

The fees have come on top of more than $800,000 in related legal settlements, pushing the total cost of the case for taxpayers to over $1.8 million.

The controversy goes back more than five years when it was discovered the South Bend Police Department was recording some officers’ phone lines. The police tapes ignited a legal battle involving the city, its employees and the Common Council that continues to rack up legal fees.

“Everyone who has ever touched this case is frustrated,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said. “It’s expensive because it’s complicated.”

Since October 2012, South Bend has paid $802,859, divided among law firms Faegre Baker Daniels and Dixon Wright & Associates, as well as attorney Stephen Cowen. The Common Council has paid $283,535 to May Oberfell Lorber.

The legal bills don’t include an additional $810,000 in settlements from civil lawsuits stemming from the recordings.

Buttigieg said the wiretapping case is the single most expensive case the city has faced. The city’s legal fees are paid out of the general fund, while settlements are paid out of an insurance fund all departments pay into. But in the end, all the money is taxpayer money.

The controversy started when former police communication’s director Karen DePaepe said she listened to conversations recorded from the office phone line of then-Capt. Brian Young. DePaepe said she heard discussions that concerned her and made cassette tapes that she took to Darryl Boykins, the police chief at the time.

The incident led Buttigieg to fire DePaepe and demote Boykins from chief.

The Common Council subpoenaed the city for the tapes because some community members demanded they be released publicly.

Young and three other officers said to be on the tapes — Tim Corbett, Dave Wells and Steve Richmond — sued the city for what they said was an illegal wiretap. The city settled with the officers for $500,000, and also settled lawsuits from Boykins for $75,000 and DePaepe for $230,000.

But the question that started it all has still not been answered: can the tapes be turned over to the Common Council and made public? It’s a legal quandary the city is now trying to get out of.

“I can tell you there’s no end in sight,” said Bob Palmer, the Common Council’s attorney. “We are basically starting over.”

The case spent some time in federal court but was kicked back to state court in August by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

During a hearing last month, the city said it would like to turn over all eight cassette tapes and let the court decide whether the Common Council can receive copies. The officers involved have filed motions to prevent the tapes from being released. The city has until the end of the year to file its motion to deposit the tapes with the court and be dismissed.

Buttigieg said he understands the public’s frustration. He hears from people who are frustrated the case has been so lengthy and expensive or are frustrated because they want the tapes released.

“I get it. I feel the same way,” he said. “People think it’s expensive and so do I.”

But the city can’t take any missteps legally, the mayor said.

Palmer said the case should have been resolved by now.

“I’m frustrated because we wasted a lot of time in federal court,” he said. “It could have been resolved two to three years ago.”

lwright@SBTinfo.com

574-235-6324

@LWrightSBT

https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/p ... b5adc.html
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