AP NEWS

Sullivan plea deal rejected

May 23, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY – A plea agreement that would have allowed a deferred judgment in a felony case against an elected county official was rejected by a judge in court Thursday morning.

Judge Michael Bergerson declined to consider the agreement during a May 9 hearing until after he’d heard from the victim. La Porte County Councilman John Sullivan is charged with breaking into her home without her authorization while she was away on May 14, 2018.

The woman was present in court, but opted to have special prosecutor Robert Ives read her victim impact statement instead of testifying.

In short, the woman objected to the deferred judgment and questioned whether someone who isn’t an elected official or La Porte firefighter would receive such consideration under the same circumstances.

She also surmised the state may be attempting to help Sullivan, 58, protect his pension by deferring judgment of the Level 6 felony residential entry charge he faces to allow for the entry of a Class A misdemeanor upon completion of predispositional probation on April 15, 2021.

Bergerson asked whether the woman would be willing to testify against Sullivan at trial, and she indicated she would.

He responded by rejecting the plea agreement and scheduling Sullivan to face a jury in La Porte Superior Court 1 beginning Aug. 26.

Sullivan and prosecutors may still tender an amended plea agreement at the new final pretrial conference on July 25, but the judge said he will not consider probation if GPS monitoring isn’t one of the stipulations.

As it’s currently written, Sullivan’s plea deal includes a mandatory mental health evaluation and treatment, if necessary; as well as an order for him to resign from his post on the County Council upon acceptance of his plea.

If convicted at trial, Sullivan could face up to 2.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

He remains free on a $750 cash bond and active on the County Council as he awaits the resolution of his case.

Ives indicated to the court Thursday that multiple other women have made similar allegations against the county councilman. Some may be chargeable, he said, but he believes the current case has the strongest likelihood of conviction.

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