Final Land Bank Convictions Announced
Calling it one of the most consequential prosecutions in 20 years, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced the convictions of the final two defendants in the Indy Land Bank scandal.
A jury Wednesday night found former city employee Reggie Walton and David Johnson, the director of Indianapolis Minority Aids Coalition of several counts of fraud and bribery.
The purpose of the Indianapolis Land Bank is to acquire abandoned and tax delinquent properties in Indianapolis and return them to productive and economically viable use. Properties are made available for sale to non-profit and for-profit real estate developers. For-profit investors interested in purchasing real estate from the Land Bank must pay at least the appraised value of the property. Non-profit purchasers, however, may bypass the auction process, purchasing real estate for a price between $1,000 and $2,500 per parcel, regardless of the appraised value of the property.
Minkler says Walton and Johnson accepted bribes and “kick-backs” to facilitate fraudulent property sales to non-profit entities that would then sell the property to for-profit businesses. After these “pass-through” transactions had taken place, Walton and Johnson would receive kickback payments from the non-profit organizations from the proceeds of the property sales. The investigation into the pair also included the use of an undercover agent, and Walton accepted $500 from that agent in return for his agreement to fraudulently transfer at least ten parcels of land to the agent for $1,000 each.
There were a total of five convictions in the Indy Land Bank scandal. Three other defendants plead guilty.
You can hear the news conference in the Leon-Tailored Audio above. It runs about 15 minutes.