Department of Metropolitan Development employees Reggie Walton, John Hawkins fired over charges

City hires attorney to look at policies

INDIANAPOLIS - Two city officials facing federal charges in a bribery scheme involving abandoned properties have been fired.

Reggie Walton, 29, assistant administrator of Indianapolis' Department of Metropolitan Development, and John Hawkins, 27, senior project manager for the agency, were fired Friday, days after they were taken into custody on multiple charges of wire fraud and bribery.

"While a federal court will ultimately decide if these two young men broke the law, the evidence presented in the indictment clearly indicates they violated the city's ethics ordinance and failed to uphold the standards our city expects from its public servants," Mayor Greg Ballard said in a news release.

Prosecutors claim the men abused the Indianapolis Land Bank, a city program that acquires abandoned and tax-delinquent properties and makes them available for sale to nonprofit and for-profit real estate developers, turning it into a profit-making venture for themselves.

According to the indictment, Walton and Reed accepted bribes and kick-backs to facilitate fraudulent property sales to nonprofit entities that would then sell the property to for-profit businesses.

FBI agent posing as someone looking to obtain land through the Land Bank paid a $500 bribe to Walton for favorable official action by his office, prosecutors said.

Walton, while working at the DMD, also was a silent partner in the Naptown Housing Group, concealing his involvement, but receiving a share of the corporation's profits, according to the indictment.

David Johnson, 47, executive director of the nonprofit Indianapolis Minority Aids Coalition, Randall K. Sergeant, 57, president of the nonprofit New Day Residential Development and Aaron Reid, 35, with the for-profit Naptown Housing Group face similar charges.

Ballard's office also said the city has hired an attorney to coordinate with federal officials on the case and review city policies.

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