Labor Department Sues N.W. Indiana Carpenters Pension Trustees

A sweetheart land deal continues to produce heartaches for those involved. On June 30 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) sued six persons involved with a decision by the Northwest Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Trust Fund to invest $10 million in a major real estate development near Chesterton, Ind. Back in 1998 the pension board had voted to approve the purchase, at an inflated price, of a 55-acre tract of land in the 640-acre Coffee Creek planned community in Chesterton, Ind. Now the Labor Department wants Gerry Nannenga and other trustees refund all losses incurred in the deal. The suit also names former Indiana Democratic Chairman Peter Manous, Kevin Pastrick and C. Paul Ihle as defendants. They, along with Nannenga, were convicted last year on federal corruption charges. Nannenga had taken a $45,000 bribe from Pastrick and Manous to vote for the purchase.    


The DOL contends that the four convicted men and the trustees violated the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974 by improperly conducting and monitoring the land deal. Though the lawsuit does not specify an amount, it demands that all defendants make good on all losses sustained by the pension fund. This includes opportunity as well as out-of-pocket costs. (Associated Press, 7/2).