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Jurors selected in final Land Bank fraud trials

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A jury was seated Tuesday for the final two defendants accused in an alleged fraud scheme at the Indianapolis Land Bank.

Former Land Bank Director Reggie Walton is accused of arranging alleged kickbacks to Land Bank employees and accepting bribes in exchange for steep discounts on city owned properties managed through the Land Bank. Indiana Minority AIDS Coalition Director David Johnson also faces bribery charges in connection with the case.

Indianapolis’ Land Bank is used to acquire vacant and tax-delinquent properties and sell them to both non-profit and for-profit real estate developers. But, prosecutors say those running it schemed to turn the program into a cash cow for themselves.

A federal indictment alleges that Walton and Land Bank employee John Hawkins accepted bribes and kickbacks to facilitate fraudulent property sales under the program. Hawkins, Aaron Reid of the for-profit Naptown Housing Group, and Randall Sargent President of the non-profit New Day Residential Development, all agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges in exchange for testifying in the case. No sentencing dates have been set in their cases.

The trial for Walton and Johnson is expected to last three weeks. Court records show both face 10 total counts of wire fraud and bribery.

More than 50 jurors were called and questioned Tuesday before the jury was seated. About 40 potential witnesses could testify in the case, including former City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn, who later served as Mayor Greg Ballard’s Chief of Staff.

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