Council member, 2 others face federal charges

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett
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A federal grand jury indictment for fraud could put Indianapolis Councilman Paul Bateman in prison. Bateman helped run a charitable foundation that investigators say defrauded its only investor out of more than a million dollars.

Paul Bateman, a councilman who led prayer vigils against violent crime, is charged with 18 federal crimes and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"There were numerous vehicles purchased. There was also a payment of Mr. Bateman's personal tax liability," said Joe Vaughn, assistant US attorney.

The grand jury indictment claims that in 2007, Bateman and two other men defrauded a local doctor out of $1.7 million. Their scheme was allegedly disguised behind the now bankrupt Indianapolis-based Russell Foundation.

The doctor was assured the money would be invested in an ethanol manufacturing operation and that astoundingly high profits would benefit him as well as the charitable foundation.

"There was a member of the Russell Foundation who was a City-County councilman, which added to the aura of respectability, credibility and legitimacy to the foundation," said Vaughn.

Investigators say a then-high ranking Indianapolis Metro Police Department official added to the legitimacy of the foundation. The officer is not named or charged in the indictment.

Bateman, along with co-defendants Michael Russell and Manuel Gonzalez, are accused of spending their investor's money quickly and lavishly, purchasing 11 vehicles, vacations, custom clothing, jewelery and other personal items.

If found guilty, each man could spend decades in prison.

All three men will receive summonses ordering them to appear in federal court.

Eyewitness News was unable to contact Paul Batman for his comment on the indictment.