FBI seeks Porter County records for construction of hospital, medical office building
BY AMY LAVALLEY Correspondent March 10, 2014 7:32PM
Updated: April 12, 2014 6:22AM
VALPARAISO — The FBI has broadened its scrutiny of Porter County, this time going after records regarding the construction of Porter Regional Hospital and an adjacent medical office building.
Agents were at the Porter County Plan Commission office Friday afternoon and Monday morning, asking for copies of building permits for the two structures, said Robert Thompson, executive director of the plan commission.
“That’s all I can say,” he said.
The document request came less than a week after Porter County Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st District, held a news conference March 4 questioning whether the medical office building, owned by a trust, should be part of a 10-year tax abatement the council has granted to the hospital.
He also questioned the trust’s arrangement with the hospital — which owns the land on which the medical office sits — and noted “the degree of clandestineness” on the part of the hospital in regards to the medical building.
A high-ranking official with the trust has said there’s nothing unusual about the arrangement, and said Wednesday the trust is not seeking a tax abatement for the medical building.
The building is adjacent to the hospital, at Indiana 49 and U.S. 6.
This is the fourth time since November the FBI has requested documents regarding the county.
In December, the bureau asked Porter County Clerk Karen Martin about conflict of interest forms filed with her office and the State Board of Accounts, dating back to 2007. She was to testify before a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Hammond about those records, but was not called to appear.
In November, the FBI contacted Anton Insurance, the county’s servicing agent for its health insurance, about communication with the Board of Commissioners regarding the county’s contract for its clinic services.
In December 2012, commissioners reviewed four bids for clinic services, including one from HealtheAccess, the county’s clinic provider at that time, which had the contract for several years. Commissioners selected the hospital for that contract.
Also in November, the FBI took a look at highway department bids and contracts for services and supplies for 2010 and 2011.