Appeal rejected

Tribune-Star/Austen Leake file photo

Former Vigo County Schools Superintendent Danny Tanoos, shown here at a previous school board meeting, will not see his mid-case appeal on bribery charges go before the Indiana Supreme Court. The trial process resumes in May in Marion County. 

The Indiana Supreme Court has denied a request by former Vigo County School Superintendent Danny Tanoos to review bribery charges filed against Tanoos in Marion County.

In a 3-2 decision issued Thursday, the court denied a petition to transfer the case.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justices Steven David and Christopher Goff voted to deny the petition. Justices Mark Massa and Geoffrey Slaughter voted to grant the petition to transfer.

Marion County Superior Court 4 has been notified of the Supreme Court order, and the criminal case will proceed with a hearing set for 9 a.m. May 6 before Judge Lisa Borges.

The criminal case was put on hold in the trial court while a mid-case appeal filed in June was before the Court of Appeals and then the Indiana Supreme Court.

On Dec. 6, the Indiana Court of Appeals issued its opinion that Judge Borges did not err in refusing to dismiss the charges, which Tanoos claimed were unclear and did not point to a specific crime being committed.

The order issued Thursday said the justices reviewed the appeals court decision, records, briefs and materials filed for the petition, and the justices conferred about the case before voting.

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.

Tanoos 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.

Tanoos’ defense team filed a mid-case appeal arguing that accepting dinners and tickets from a vendor doing business with the school corporation does not in itself constitute bribery. The appeal also raises the argument that were the court to let the charges as written stand, any Indiana public official could face prosecution for accepting gifts from an individual or organization.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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