Chesterton Tribune

 

 

FBI seeks computer info in latest visit to Porter County government

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The FBI is continuing to investigate the Porter County Plan Commission. Wednesday agents inquired as to what kind of computer equipment it uses.

County ITS Director Sharon Lippens told the Chesterton Tribune this morning that the FBI visited her office mid-afternoon escorted by Plan Commission Executive Director Robert Thompson.

“They asked (Thompson) what kind of server his office ran on. He didn’t know so that is why they came and asked me in my department. They asked for the serial number, the make and model of the server,” Lippens said. “That’s all what happened.”

Lippens said the FBI did not tell her why they wanted the information.

Thompson told the Tribune “no comment” when asked about Wednesday’s events.

FBI agents also visited the Plan Commission office March 7 and March 10 to take copies of building permits issued for Porter Regional Hospital and the 62,000 sq. ft. medical office building connected to it owned by Sanders Trust.

At that time Thompson confirmed the FBI visits but would not give further comment.

The building permits have played a part in the County Council’s ongoing discussion of a 10-year tax abatement for the new hospital located at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 in Liberty Twp.

County Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st, presented to the press printed copies of building permits that the County Assessor’s Office had on file that indicated Porter Hospital LLC as the property owner for both the hospital and medical office building.

The original handwritten permits for the buildings have reportedly been missing from the Plan Commission office, Biggs said, and he’s urged closer scrutiny on the Council’s part when considering the abatement.

County officials have reported numerous visits by the FBI since November. Agents have taken documents related to the December 2012 contract between Porter County and Porter Hospital for clinical services in the County’s Employee Health Plan, conflict of interest disclosure statements filed in the County Clerk’s office from 2007 to 2013, and project bid proposals related to 2010 and 2011 contracts with the County Highway Department.

 

Posted 3/21/2014