For the third time in two months, Indiana prosecuting attorneys have come under fire for their handling of forfeiture cases involving cash and property seized from criminal defendants, reports the Indianapolis Star. Former Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney was suspended from practicing law for 120 days for professional misconduct in his work on forfeiture cases as a deputy prosecutor from 1995 to 2006.
McKinney contracted with the prosecutor's office to handle forfeitures in a deal that allowed him to keep 25 percent of what was collected. A disciplinary order issued yesterday says McKinney's dual role "created a conflict of interest between his duties as a public official and the private gain he realized in forfeiture proceedings." Even more troubling, the ruling adds: "On numerous occasions when the ethics of the asset forfeiture procedures were called into question, (McKinney) turned a blind eye and acted to protect his private interest in his continued pursuit of forfeiture property." An Indianapolis Star investigation showed that many Indiana prosecutors keep all or most forfeiture proceeds, rather than sending the money to the state's Common School fund as required by law.