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11/12/2017 11:23:00 AM
Legal bills of five-year-old South Bend police wiretapping case top $1 million

Lincoln Wright, South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — The city and Common Council have spent more than $1 million on legal fees in the ongoing police wiretapping case, which still doesn’t have an end in sight.

The fees have come on top of more than $800,000 in related legal settlements, pushing the total cost of the case for taxpayers to over $1.8 million.

The controversy goes back more than five years when it was discovered the South Bend Police Department was recording some officers’ phone lines. The police tapes ignited a legal battle involving the city, its employees and the Common Council that continues to rack up legal fees.

“Everyone who has ever touched this case is frustrated,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said. “It’s expensive because it’s complicated.”

Since October 2012, South Bend has paid $802,859, divided among law firms Faegre Baker Daniels and Dixon Wright & Associates, as well as attorney Stephen Cowen. The Common Council has paid $283,535 to May Oberfell Lorber.

The legal bills don’t include an additional $810,000 in settlements from civil lawsuits stemming from the recordings.

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