The mayor of an Indiana community has been charged with multiple felonies amid a heated battle with his police department.
Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer faces two misdemeanor charges of false informing and six felony counts for intimidation and official misconduct, WNDU reported. The false informing charges claim Meer’s conduct resulted “in substantial hindrance to law enforcement.”
Attorney Scott King, who was meeting with Meer to discuss the charges, said he had “no idea what the prosecutor was thinking when he brought these charges,” NWITimes reported.
“I find it absolutely incredible that any reputable prosecutor would ask for charges on the eve of an election,’’ King said. “This really has a smell to it.”
“The case has absolutely nothing to do with any election,’’ Prosecutor John Lake said in response, according to NWITimes.
Lake said the charges against Meer, which he filed Wednesday, had not been intended to be public yet.
— Max Lewis (@MaxLewisTV) November 1, 2019
Meer, a Democrat, is facing three challengers in the Nov. 5th election.
Meer has been battling with authorities ever since the arrest of his stepson last month on drug charges. Meer claimed the arrest was politically motivated.
“It was brought to my attention by a confidential informant that he was directed by the La Porte County prosecutor’s office and a member of the drug task force to target my son,” Meer said in a statement last month, WSBT reported. “It is no coincidence this is occurring just a couple of weeks before the election.”
Lake called Meer’s claim “completely false.”
“His theme, I’ve heard it on the radio, is, ‘Keep a good thing going,’” Lake said told WSBT last month. “If ‘keep a good thing going’ means we’re going to have a two-tiered justice system in LaPorte County, I’m not going to keep a good thing going.”
The charges follow the resignations of Police Chief Mark Swistek and two assistant chiefs. Swistek said Meer ordered him to remove officers from the department’s anti-drug task force. Swistek said the Meer’s order put the community at “unacceptable risk.”
Meer said Swistek was over-reacting.
“I apologized for my choice of words to the chief during a private, heated discussion. I did not mean what I said to Chief Swistek and I had no intention of reassigning any officers on the LaPorte County Drug Task Force,” he told NWITimes. Meer then appointed a new police chief.
King said Meer did nothing criminal.
“Giving a directive, giving a suggestion, giving any form of executive input to somebody in the chain of command does not constitute a criminal act. It’s just that simple,’’ he told NWITimes.
Meer said that the weeks of turmoil have “no bearing on where we’re moving forward with the city. I do not stand by that, that he was targeted, but I’m not going to talk about the circumstances. That’ll be handled in a court of law.”
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