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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court disciplines former Schererville town judge Deborah A. Riga

This Sept. 11, 2008 ILB post quotes a story from the Gary Post-Tribune that begins:

Just two weeks before she is scheduled to report to federal prison, the state Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission has suspended the law license of former Schererville Town Judge Deborah Riga.

The move is a prelude to the court permanently revoking her license following her sentence of 15 months in prison on a mail fraud conviction, said Donald Lundberg, executive secretary to the disciplinary commission.

That was nearly 6 years ago. Today the Supreme Court has posted this 4-page, 5-0, detailed disciplinary order (filed April 3rd): In the Matter of: Deborah A. Riga Gardner. Some quotes:
Respondent was charged on August 5, 2004, with several federal crimes based on actions while she served as a town judge. On June 12, 2006, the court accepted Respondent's guilty plea to four counts of "Mail Fraud for the Purpose of Executing a Scheme and Artifice to Defraud, Aiding and Abetting," in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 1341 and 1346. The district court delayed the sentencing to allow her to cooperate with the government and testify against another defendant on public corruption charges. On July 10, 2008, the district court sentenced her to concurrent 15-month sentences on each of the four counts, ordered her to pay restitution of $5,770.39 to the Town, and $6,350 to the State of Indiana-Lake County, and dismissed the remaining charges.

Based on these convictions, the Court entered an order of interim suspension on September 4, 2008, which is still in effect. See Matter of Riga, 894 N.E.2d 563 (Ind. 2008). * * *

[Included in the facts in mitigation] (4) other penalties have been imposed upon Respondent for her misconduct, including a felony conviction and imprisonment; (5) Respondent volunteers a significant amount of time to organizations dedicated to philanthropic endeavors; (6) there has been extensive delay in these disciplinary proceedings, none of which is attributable to Respondent. * * *

Discipline: The parties propose the appropriate discipline is a five-year suspension without automatic reinstatement. The Court, having considered the submissions of the parties, now approves the agreed discipline.

ILB: It appears to have been 4 to 5 years since Riga was released from prison, and the interim suspension, first imposed when she entered prison, has continued in effect during that period and until the date of this order. This "extensive delay" in the disciplinary proceedings is not explained, other than that it was not attributable to Riga. On top of that, the Court has now imposed "a five-year suspension without automatic reinstatement," which went into effect the date of this order, April 3, 2014.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 8, 2014 12:55 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions