Land bank defendants face federal prison

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(March 19, 2015) - Two men convicted of a bribery and fraud scheme involving the Indianapolis Land Bank face several years in federal prison.

Reginal Walton was the city's assistant administrator overseeing the program to buy dilapidated homes off the tax delinquency rolls and turn them over to investors and non-profits for rehabilitation.

David Johnson was the executive director of the Indianapolis Minority Aids Coalition which was involved in buying properties at rock bottom rates and turning them around for quick profits.

Three other men were also charged.

"The testimony of cooperating co-defendants was a very helpful part of the prosecution," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Blackington. "Our case involved a lot of evidence. It involved wiretaps. It involved the testimony of accomplices. It involved emails. It involved documents that were obtained in search warrants."

FBI agents raided the City County Building offices of the Land Bank in May of 2013.

"There is no price in my opinion that can be put on honest services from the government on integrity and on simply telling the truth," said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler. "This was clearly a pattern that we uncovered of lies, kickbacks, bribery, secrecy, greed. It was a consequential prosecution."

Winkler said he will ask a prison sentence of more than ten years for Walton's convictions of fraud and bribery, a few years less for Johnson.

Walton's attorney argued that his client was guilty only of poor judgment.

"Bribery and kickbacks are not poor decision making. They're crimes," said Blackington. "Very simple concept."

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