Gary Woman Convicted After Two Week Jury Trial
For Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Honest Services Wire Fraud
HAMMOND – United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, Thomas L. Kirsch II, announced that Ethel Shelton, age 72, of Gary, Indiana was convicted of two federal criminal conspiracy charges after a 10-day jury trial before District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen.
The jury convicted Shelton on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Shelton’s co-defendant, Alex Wheeler, age 68, of Gary, Indiana was found not guilty of both charges. Former Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin and her son Stephen Hunter previously pleaded guilty in this case, pursuant to plea agreements.
According to records in the case, Shelton was a member of Elgin’s political initiatives committee and served as Elgin’s Executive Secretary from 2006 to 2012. Throughout Elgin’s tenure as Calumet Township Trustee, members of the conspiracy, including Shelton and Hunter, used property and employee resources of the Trustee’s Office to run Elgin’s reelection campaigns. Elgin created an environment whereby employees believed that retaining their jobs hinged on purchasing tickets to her political fundraising events. Shelton was in charge of ticket distribution and payment collection, all of which occurred in the Trustee’s Office during work hours. Tickets were distributed according to the employees’ salary. Shelton kept track of which purchased tickets and which did not. Employees who could not pay for their tickets all at once were placed on payment plans.
The Calumet Township Trustee’s Office is a local government entity whose primary mission is to provide emergency relief and assistance to needy individuals and families.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of Internal Revenue Service. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Maria Lerner, Abizer Zanzi and Philip Benson.