Tippecanoe Co. Prosecutor candidates' final plea

The prosecutor is the most powerful position in Tippecanoe County law enforcement. That's why thousands are still deciding who is best for the job.

Posted: May 3, 2018 6:53 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) -- If you were to imagine this race as a jury trial, we would be at the part where the defendant decides whether to take the stand. They can refuse to talk, but both Tippecanoe County Prosecutor candidates decided to 'testify' this week. 

Incumbent Prosecutor Patrick Harrington and his challenger Earl McCoy are not on trial. But if they were, they'd plead not guilty to each other's accusations.


"From the very beginning, Mr. Harrington has launched a smear campaign," said McCoy. 

"This is a well-organized campaign out there that's based upon deception and lies," said Harrington. 

But both candidates say their 'book of facts' tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so, help yourself to a copy:

Earl McCoy's book

Patrick Harrington's book

"The public knows," said McCoy. 

McCoy has a problem with how and when Harrington's office files cases.

"He's concerned about a conviction rate, if it looks even close, he won't file it," said McCoy. 

McCoy calls Harrington's method, cherry-picking.

"They want proof beyond a reasonable doubt before they file," said McCoy. "And sometimes that takes years to determine."

"Our burden is beyond a reasonable doubt," said Harrington. "Police [responsibility] is probable cause. In many cases, like I said, there's beyond a reasonable doubt evidence in your probable cause affidavit."

But McCoy has a different interpretation of how it should work.

"You file the charges, you go through the discovery process, you have testing done, and at some point if we learn through the process that the charges are inaccurate, we can deal with that," said McCoy. 

What do other Prosecutors think about no-file cases? White County Prosecutor Robert Guy says, "It is a prosecutor's role to review, not rubber stamp every report with criminal charges. We are the checks and balances to ensure the innocent are not wrongfully charged with a crime." 15-20 percent of Guy's cases go unfiled.

McCoy maintains he can do better, as long as there's probable cause to file a charge.

You may remember this campaign video, where McCoy said he got word his opponent was going to attack him about his tax issues. He admitted to tax problems, but didn't go in depth. News 18 asked, why?

"I addressed them somewhat vaguely because the real allegations hadn't been made public yet," responded McCoy. "They were being done secretly, being done behind the scenes, and then I find it interesting that he was hoping the media would pick up and run with it and then that didn't happen fast enough so he came out with his book."

But News 18 did run a tax story a few days after the release of McCoy's video. He doesn't dispute over a decade of late payments in federal, state, and local taxes. However, he does disagree with its relevance to the position of prosecutor.

"Those tax issues are not handled by the prosecutor," said McCoy. "They're handled by the auditor, the treasurer, human resources. The prosecutor doesn't deal with those issues. Just like now, I've turned those issues over to my accountant."

His accountants issued a statement saying all of McCoy's tax issues have been resolved and do not affect his ability to serve as prosecutor. But we did find one outstanding penalty of $141.

"I didn't know about that $141," said McCoy.

"But it is taken care of now?" asked News 18's Kayla Sullivan. 

"Yes," responded McCoy. 

We informed McCoy about the penalty on April 6. Tippecanoe County Treasurer Jennifer Weston confirmed McCoy paid that penalty on April 12 as well as the first and second installment of this year.

Like good jurors, these candidates hope you'll take all of the facts into consideration. Crediting their websites, booklets, and videos as your evidence.

Unlike a jury, voters don't get to take all the time they need to make a decision in this race.

The deadline for your verdict is this Tuesday.

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