Former Vigo County Schools Superintendent Danny Tanoos has filed a motion with the Indiana Court of Appeals asking the court to intervene in a criminal bribery case filed against him last September in Marion County.
The nine-page motion continues Tanoos’ argument to dismiss the three bribery charges because, he claims, accepting dinners and tickets from a vendor doing business with the school corporation does not constitute bribery.
The motion filed Tuesday by defense attorneys James Voyles and Jennifer Lukemeyer follows a March 26 decision by Marion Superior Court 4 Judge Lisa Borges to deny an earlier request to dismiss the criminal charges filed by Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.
This mid-trial appeal also raises an argument that any Indiana public official could face prosecution for accepting gifts from an individual or organization.
To support that argument, the motion refers to a recent news article about Gov. Eric Holcomb accepting private plane service from Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, which supported gaming industry legislation recently signed into law by Holcomb.
“A generalized bribery theory would seem to expose politicians like Governor Holcomb to criminal prosecution for accepting gifts, donations or money that could be perceived as influencing the receiving public official,” the motion states.
Tanoos faces one count of bribery as a Class C felony, which carries a potential sentence of two to eight years in prison with an advisory sentence of four years. He also faces two counts of bribery as a Level 5 felony, which carry a potential penalty of one to six years in prison with an advisory sentence of three years.
He has maintained his innocence.
The charges filed in September 2018 allege Tanoos solicited and accepted items of value including concert tickets and dinners from an Indianapolis-based employee of a vendor, Energy Systems Group, in exchange for recommendations that ESG be contracted to do work for the school system.
Dating back to 2000, prosecutors said, ESG did $42 million worth of business with the Vigo County School Corp. and made a profit of $11 million. During that time, ESG donated or expensed $100,000 or more to Tanoos or Vigo County School Corp, according to the state.
No dates have been set in the Court of Appeals case.
However, a June 16 hearing remains set in the bribery case in Marion Superior Court 4.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.