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Justice Group Sues Vanderburgh County over ABK Deal

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Steve Burger
/
WNIN

Equal Justice Under Law cites "exorbitant" costs for electronic monitoring and drug-alcohol testing

A Washington D.C.-based group is suing Vanderburgh County and ABK over extortion allegations. WNIN’s John Gibson reports:

The federal lawsuit by the organization Equal Justice Under Law challenges pretrial and probation fees in the county.

It alleges Vanderburgh County, in collaboration with the private corporation ABK, charges exorbitant fees to people for drug and alcohol testing and electronic monitoring, and puts those who can’t pay in jail, creating what the group calls a “modern-day debtors’ prison.“

The suit alleges Vanderburgh Circuit Court Judge David Kiely gave ABK exclusive control over electronic monitoring and drug and alcohol testing for both pretrial and sentenced criminal defendants.

The group calls it a monopoly, noting that ABK is run by Judge Kiely’s friend Danny Koester (KEH-ster).

The plaintiffs in the suit are William Huggins and Keith Miller.

The Evansville Courier and Press reported on the agreement between Judge Kiely and ABK in October 2021.

The judge told the publication that he had never sought competitive bids for the services provided by ABK or asked Koester to sign a written contract.