Mollenhauer blasts Espar for not recusing himself from Sullivan case, cites contradictions

Below is a press release from LaPorte County Councilman Mike Mollenhauer, released Aug. 13 and printed in its entirety:

John Espar’s decision to not appoint a Special Prosecutor in the John Sullivan case is politics at its worst and unbecoming of someone sworn to be the chief law enforcement official of our county.

Mollenhauer

I’ve worked in law enforcement 47 years as a sheriff’s deputy, Bremen police chief, U.S. Marshal service and was elected to two terms as LaPorte County Sheriff. I’ve worked side by side with county prosecutors, deputy prosecutors and assistant U.S. attorneys in the course of my career.

I have rarely seen a worse abuse of public office than that of John Espar personally bringing charges against an elected official that he well knows opposed him in an election. Mr. Sullivan had two large signs up on his property, he spoke to various individuals in south county on John Lake’s behalf, and was seated right next to Mr. Lake at a candidates’ forum in LaCrosse before the primary that Mr. Espar attended.

For Mr. Espar to claim on the front page that he’s not going to follow the Sheriff’s example and recuse is the appearance of impropriety, especially when Mr. Espar petitioned for a special prosecutor in two other cases that were political, one involving County Commissioner David Decker and another case last month involving the County GOP chairman who just appointed Espar’s daughter to be the GOP nominee for Prosecutor. (See attached Petitions for Appointment.)

Incidentally, Mr. Espar tilted the 2016 Commissioners’ election by filing charges just days before an election against Mr. Decker. He rushed to file charges, made sure that Mr. Decker was pictured in a mug shot on the front page, and yet the case was so weak it was ultimately dismissed by the Special Prosecutor. It’s the same with John Sullivan — this is a decent and honorable public servant who happened to oppose Mr. Espar in this primary and now he’s charged with a felony for having checked on a vacant home next to the Cass Township Fire Station. Any question about Mr. Espar’s political bias and why he should recuse is evident when he charges a pillar of our community with a felony over this nonsense when it could have been charged as a misdemeanor or not brought at all. This is wrong!

— Mike Mollenhauer, LaPorte County Councilman

——–

Court documents submitted with press release (edited by WNLP to simplify content):

(Regarding the 2016 David Decker case in LaPorte Superior Court 3:)

PETITION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL PROSECUTING ATTORNEY

COMES NOW, John M. Espar, Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit – LaPorte County, Indiana, and petitions this Honorable Court (LaPorte Superior Court 3) for the appointment of a Special Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit – LaPorte County, Indiana, to exercise all lawful authority of the Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit, for the purposes described herein. In support of this Petition, the undersigned states the following:

— I am John M. Espar, the duly elected, commissioned and serving Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit of the State of Indiana

— The term of office for which I currently serve began on January 1, 2015.

— On October 28, 2016, the undersigned Prosecuting Attorney was informed by Field Sergeant Ai Williamson of the Indiana State Police of an ongoing criminal investigation involving LaPorte County Commission President David Decker and that the investigation would likely be completed by Monday, October 31, 2016, and that if the investigation warranted, the investigative reports would be forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office for approval, as is customary, at that time.

— On October 31, 2016, the Indiana State Police referred to the Office of Prosecuting Attorney, the results of its criminal investigation of an unreported motor vehicle collision resulting in property damage in which the responsible person left the scene of the collision and failed to report the incident to the owner of a damaged vehicle or law enforcement as required by law.

— The suspect was reported as David Decker, Defendant herein.

— David Decker currently serves as the President of the LaPorte County Board of Commissioners.

— Upon review of the incident and crash reports, the video recordings of the investigation and the Affidavit of Indiana State Police Field Sergeant Al Williamson, I approved the requested charge of Failure to Stop and Report an Accident, Class B Misdemeanor.

— This Honorable Court found probable cause for the filing of the charge and issued a warrant for Mr. Decker’s arrest. The matter is now pending before this Court under the caption above.

— On November 1, 2016, Stephen E. Scheele, as legal counsel for Mr. Decker, issued a “press release” to the members of the media which was subsequently reported in the print and radio news media throughout LaPorte County.

— Within the press release Defendant’s counsel asserts that the investigation did not “warrant criminal prosecution” and that the decision to charge Mr. Decker “smacks of political motivation or retribution” and that the Office of the LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney, wittingly or unwittingly, is engaged in “political gamesmanship.”

— The undersigned Prosecuting Attorney is mindful that the responsibilities of the Office of Prosecuting Attorney will from time to time require the undersigned to review investigations and prosecute actions which involve others who the prosecutor knows through the working of local politics and local government. And the undersigned Prosecuting Attorney has been mindful throughout this process of the unfortunate timing of the State Police’s investigation, given the impending election cycle which includes Mr. Decker.

For this reason, and so as to remain above the politics of the moment, the undersigned Prosecuting Attorney, prior to the filing of the charge in case, deliberately communicated with no person – by any means – regarding the ongoing investigation, except for law enforcement connected to the investigation. Indeed, the undersigned Prosecuting Attorney declined to attend a previously scheduled community event at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds, which the undersigned planned to attend, so as to avoid any possible encounter with any person who may seek to influence the Office of Prosecuting Attorney in this matter, one way or another.

— It is a matter of public record and public knowledge that Mr. Decker and the undersigned Prosecuting Attorney share membership in the same political party under which we were each elected to public office. Ironically, prior to the filing of the instant charges, the undersigned private citizen John Espar posted in the front lawn of his personal residence, Mr. Decker’s campaign sign.

— The undersigned Prosecuting Attorney possesses neither bias for nor prejudice against Mr. Decker and harbors no personal reluctance to perform the duties of the Office of Prosecuting Attorney in the prosecution of this matter – or any other matter — irrespective of Mr. Decker’s or any person’s political affiliation.

— However, the administration of justice and the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system requires more than the undersigned’s personal commitment to the impartial prosecution of this matter. It requires the absence of any appearance of impropriety.

The comments of Defense counsel in the widely covered press release have now created what will now be a public impression and public debate that will persist throughout the prosecution of this matter that actions of the undersigned Prosecuting Attorney were for improper political purposes and as such has created an appearance of impropriety which may erode or otherwise undermine the public’s confidence in the criminal justice process and the administration of justice this case.

Furthermore, the allegations of Defense counsel has now and for the duration of the case, cast a shadow over all future actions of the undersigned’s office in any disposition that now may or may not be negotiated and alternately argued is the byproduct of a “political persecution” as Defendant has alleged, or political favoritism as Mr. Decker’s opponents may allege.

WHEREFORE, John M. Espar Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit, LaPorte County, State of Indiana, respectfully petitions this Court to appoint a Special Prosecuting Attorney to exercise all prosecutorial authority for the 32nd Judicial Circuit until the conclusion of the matter, and for all other just and proper relief in the premises.

Respectfully submitted,

John M. Espar

(Regarding the 2018 case vs. Christopher Throgmorton in LaPorte Superior Court 3:)

PETITION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL PROSECUTING ATTORNEY

COMES NOW, John M. Espar, Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit – LaPorte County, Indiana, and petitions this Honorable Court for the appointment of a Special Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit – LaPorte County, Indiana, to exercise all lawful authority of the Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit, for the purposes described herein. In support of this petition, the undersigned states the following:

— I am John M. Espar, the duly elected, commissioned and serving Prosecuting Attorney for the 32nd Judicial Circuit of the State of Indiana.

— The term of office for which I currently serve, began on January 1, 2015.

— The appointment of a Special Prosecutor in this matter is necessary to avoid what may be considered a conflict of interest or what creates an appearance of impropriety.

— The Defendant is charged in the above cause with Battery Resulting in Bodily Injury, a Class A Misdemeanor. The alleged victim in this matter is Mitchell D Feikes, who is the LaPorte County Republican Party Chair, and who has a professional relationship in that position with a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney of the LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney’s office who is seeking election on the Republican Party ballot. The Deputy Prosecuting Attorney seeking election is the currently elected Prosecuting Attorney’s daughter, and therefore this relationship may be considered a conflict of interest or what creates an appearance of impropriety.

I agree that the continued involvement of the undersigned Prosecuting Attorney in a matter involving a member of the staff of the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney may constitute a conflict of interest and/or arcates an appearance of impropriety such that a Special Prosecuting Attorney is necessary pursuant to Ind. Code 33-39-10-2(0)(3).

WHEREFORE, John M. Espar Prosecuting Attorney for the 32ad Judicial Circuit, LaPorte County, State of Indiana, respectfully petitions this Court appoint a Special Prosecuting Attorney to continue the prosecution of this matter, and for all other just and proper relief in the premises.

Respectfully submitted,

John M. Espar

8 Responses to “Mollenhauer blasts Espar for not recusing himself from Sullivan case, cites contradictions”

  1. bob

    Aug 13. 2018

    really, more of the same crap from both sides, how embarrassing to be a tax paying citizen who knows his local and county tax money is wasted on this kind of crap

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jonathon Dough

    Aug 13. 2018

    I wonder…did the former county sheriff work closely with the former county coroner?

    Reply to this comment
  3. Christopher Throgmorton

    Aug 14. 2018

    It should be noted, Espar didnt recuse until after charges of battery were filed on a clear self defense matter and they had illegally confiscated my phone.

    Reply to this comment
    • P

      Sep 11. 2018

      Shocking! The infamous C. Throg. is whining again. At least he is smarter than everyone, and will use that intelligence to go harass people until someone bigger comes along. Then he just cries and whines like the pathetic, small-minded child that he is. So glad you are not in my city…….

      Reply to this comment
  4. Dave

    Aug 14. 2018

    Mr Sullivan over the past 30 years has entered and checked on numerous unoccupied residents in southern LaPorte County as you will all hear about in the coming weeks as more and more people have come forward. How about we worry less about whether the prosecuting attorney recused himself from the case and more about stopping this individual from entering anymore homes. If you have a concern please call the Lowell State Police Post and ask for the detective handling this case he wants to hear from you.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Concerned

    Aug 15. 2018

    It is concerning that so many elected officials are more concerned about Mr. Espar recusing himself, than the fact that Mr. Sullivan is charged with breaking the law. I suspect more will come forward against him. Everyone needs to take note during the next election. Protecting the one that is charged with breaking the law rather than supporting the one enforcing it. Sad.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Concerned for Justice

    Aug 15. 2018

    You all don’t seem to get it. Mr. Espar states that if he requested a special prosecutor for all the people he knows…for or against him…he could never do his job.

    Mr. Espar, how many elected officials are arrested in a year? Not many. So his argument is hollow. What I want to know is how many Espar Family Members (Brothers, Sisters, Children, Niece’s or Nephews) on the LaPorte County Payroll or that of Michigan City?

    He’s a bully…a small one at that…but still a bully. To run his daughter as a Republican is an insult to Republicans and should be rejected. As a Democrat, we should rally around the ELECTED Primary Candidate.

    Who would run their daughter for an office he lost except to protect…what…jobs, influence, punish enemy’s, money, protection? Which one is it? Anyone with class would have endorsed the party member who beat him and moved on. Remember, in the end, bully’s lose…and usually in quick and spectacular fashion.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Pete

    Aug 16. 2018

    “I’ve worked in law enforcement 47 years as a sheriff’s deputy, Bremen police chief, U.S. Marshal service and was elected to two terms as LaPorte County Sheriff. I’ve worked side by side with county prosecutors, deputy prosecutors and assistant U.S. attorneys in the course of my career.” My thoughts are that this doesn’t mean you were good at any of these jobs.

    Reply to this comment

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