Surreal: East Chicago City Councilman Takes Oath In Jail Because He’s Been Saddled With Murder and Drug Charges

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jan 26, 2016 11:45 AM
Surreal: East Chicago City Councilman Takes Oath In Jail Because He’s Been Saddled With Murder and Drug Charges

Just over the Illinois border, East Chicago City, Indiana is the home of a rather bizarre incident: a city councilman has been re-elected, despite being hit with federal murder and drug charges. That elected official would be Robert Battle, who ran unopposed and was sworn in for his second term on the council in county jail (via Chicago Tribune):

An unnamed official was brought in to do the swearing-in on Friday for Battle, who is being held in federal custody at the Porter County facility, according to Sheriff David Reynolds.

"There is no reason for me to deny it legally," Reynolds said, adding he spoke to the U.S. marshal, who agreed. Battle could have chosen to be sworn in via video conferencing but opted for an in-person oath, Reynolds said.

Indiana law permits Battle to hold his seat – and collect the $42,365 salary that it pays – until he resigns, admits his guilt on any of the charges or is found guilty in court. Battle, a Democrat, ran unopposed in November and received 308 votes.

According to the Washington Post, John Buncich, chair of the Lake County Democratic Central Committee, is upset over the current situation since no bond was offered during Battle’s arraignment, meaning he cannot fulfill the duties of his elected office. He also mentioned that Battle didn’t even vote for himself since he was in jail at the time. Additionally, the publication noted that the city is a hotbed for corruption and delved into Battle’s murder and drug charges:

In 2010, former mayor George Pabey (D) was convicted of conspiracy and theft of government funds and was sentenced to five years in prison. And in September, Keith Soderquist, the Democratic mayor of nearby Lake Station, was convicted of wire fraud and tax evasion. Soderquist and his wife, who was also convicted, have not yet been sentenced.

[…]

On Sept. 23, officials caught Battle with 73 grams of marijuana and $100,700 in cash in his car, according to the indictment. Police also linked him to nine ounces of cocaine and three stolen guns found elsewhere, according to the documents.

Roughly three weeks later, Battle allegedly shot Camarillo in an alley behind Battle’s apartment. Battle said that he killed Camarillo in self-defense after Camarillo pulled a knife on him, according to court documents. But the Lake County Coroner’s Office ruled that Caramillo was shot once in the back, and police failed to find a knife at the scene, the Tribune reported.

Dude, really!?