Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller recently reached a settlement with East Chicago Second Century Inc. involving a lawsuit alleging the company misused riverboat casino funds meant for economic development.
Zoeller said the company's financial records showed that approximately $6 million in revenue was dispersed to company principals Michael A. Pannos and Thomas Cappas, their family members and associates between 1997 and 2008. The revenue was supposed to benefit the city of East Chicago as part of an economic development agreement.
“It is a shame the Second Century defendants exploited a weakness in the local development agreement law and steered casino revenue to their own personal benefit with no transparency rather than to the benefit of the community, and a shame that the state ever approved this arrangement in 1996,” Zoeller said. “My office vowed to pursue this lawsuit for as long as it took to provide the public an accounting of the money that was intended to uplift residents of East Chicago."
East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland and Zoeller announced a $154,042 settlement against the company to recover some of the funds intended for community enrichment. The funds recovered will be used in a new crime prevention program for the city.
“Now that the past has been laid to rest, let today’s guardians keep watch,” Copeland said. “We will use the settlement money to establish a motion detector light program called ‘BRIGHT LITE’ to aid in deterring crime in our community.”