Videotape provides evidence against former councilman
INDIANAPOLIS - Hours of surveillance tape reveal telling conversations between and undercover FBI agent and a city leader accused of taking a bribe to bring a strip club downtown.
Prosecutors say former City-County Councilman Lincoln Plowman was trying to snuff out a smoking ban that would benefit clubs while taking payments on the side.
Eyewitness News combed through the surveillance tape. Those images could put Plowman behind bars for up to 20 years.
The video shows Plowman, a former councilman and Major of Investigations at IMPD, taking cash and promising to use his influence to get zoning for a downtown strip club.
The agent hands him the wad of cash, saying, "Five grand. And I know you're going to make it happen for me. I know you will."
Now hours of taped recordings pick up from there.
"Just got out of a city council meeting," said Plowman.
"Were you able to find out anything?" responded the undercover FBI agent.
"Yes, it doesn't meet the zoning requirements; of course, because it's commercial. It's not, but, well, the whole point is I think we might be able to fix that, but I'm not one hundred percent sure yet," Plowman told him.
Federal prosecutors say Plowman started by using both his council seat and badge for free food, alcohol, and cigars at the P.T.'s Showclub in Lawrence.
"If they're found to be true, they're the most egregeous violations of public trust that I can recall," Council President Ryan Vaughn told Eyewitness News.
Neither Plowman nor his attorney would speak with us on camera. But his attorney confirms Plowman did not have a work permit from IMPD for his consulting business for the strip club. His attorney says while that would have gotten him in trouble water with IMPD, it's not a crime.
A company vice president testified Plowman had been taking payments as far back as 2005 and signed a $1,000-a-month deal in 2009 without ever disclosing his conflicts.
In fact, records show he shot down proposed smoking bans both in 2005 and 2009 while being paid by the company.
"And I hope you know by me telling you - you know - I could tell you, 'Yeah, you know. I've got it covered, man. Just send me a couple grand. But I'm not going to do that to you. I'm going to tell you 'I don't know,'" Plowman continued on tape before disclosing why he had been so busy.
"I've been up every night until midnight on the phone and email with this crazy smoking band, which, you know, does help you instead, too. Because if you want to smoke and look at some ***ties sometimes," he said, using a derogatory term referring to a woman's physique.
"You know that because, you know, you're going to help me, so I'm not going to forget you," Plowman added, making what appears to be assurances.
"We have clear conflict of interest laws that say if you're receiving financial compensation, you cannot vote directly on the issue. If that's the case, I hope they find him guilty," said Council President Vaughn.
The tape wraps up with Plowman saying he could use money to take out prospective supporters.
"Since you talked about your checkbook, this is going to cost a little bit of money, not too much - but I'm going to find the best zoning attorney in town. And then, you know, I know them all; just have to figure which one. The reason I know them all is because I sit on that zoning board; I used to be in charge of it, personally. Now, I can't sit on it. I appoint people to it," Plowman said.
Attorney Jim Voyles says Plowman was acting as a consultant and requested tax forms from the undercover FBI agent.
Management at PT's admitted they were paying Plowman since March 2005, and questioned Plowman's attempts to land a $10,000 gig lobbying for adult entertainment statewide.
A spokesman said PT's didn't want to be seen with a public official working on their behalf.