IN Dem Chief Embroiled in Possible Misuse of Pension Funds Resigns

Peter J. Manous, who took $10,000 to help sell property to a union pension fund that has gone undeveloped, resigned as Chairman of the Democratic Party in Indiana on Feb. 12.

In June 1999, pension trustees with the United Bhd. of Carpenters paid $600 million for the 640-acre Coffee Creek Center in Chesterton. Lake Erie Land Co., a subsidiary of NiSource Inc., sold the property and paid $10,000 in legal fees for what spokesman Mark Friedlander claimed was routine work to Manous. Governor Frank O’Bannon (D) gave the planned community a ringing endorsement. “This is the way we all should live as we continue forward to protect the environment,” he said at its June 2001 dedication.

But the pension-owned property has become a boondoggle, with only a handful of houses and no commercial development. A federal indictment has reportedly been prepared, but has not yet been unsealed to the public. Manous’s attny., Mark Rotert, said he had “no reason at all” to believe that Manous was named in the indictment. But he refused to say whether Manous had been called before the federal grand jury investigating the case. [Indianapolis Star 2/14/03]