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Public Enemies

Jessica A. Woolf | The Times Porter County Sheriff David Lain holds the original Tommy Gun that John Dillinger stole from the Lake County Jail while Lain walks the red carpet Tuesday outside the Hall of Justice at the VIP party before the special screening of "Public Enemies" in Hobart.

Red-letter day in region

By Kathleen Quilligan NWI.com| Wednesday, July 01, 2009


CROWN POINT | Don Kasper quietly greeted guests as they entered the Old Sheriff's House and Jail, a piece of history on his hip and a memorial over his heart.
Kasper, a former Lake County police officer, used to work at the building at 226 S. Main St. when it held prisoners, that fact alone impressed the people coming by for tours Tuesday night, but it's the rest of the story that catches listeners off guard.
"I'm a retired police officer, and I'm also family of (Detective William Patrick O'Malley) by marriage," said Kasper, who wore O'Malley's gun on his hip and a memorial tag on his chest.
"From what I understand, (O'Malley) was a very honorable person," Tim Fealy, of Crown Point, told Kasper as they shook hands.
Kasper said his wife, Carol, is the granddaughter of O'Malley, the officer who allegedly was killed by infamous bank robber John Dillinger at a heist in 1934. She didn't want to come to Tuesday's VIP party and special screening of the Universal Studios movie "Public Enemies" that stars Johnny Depp as Dillinger.
The fine line between remembering history and glorifying a criminal was touched on throughout the night at the Hall of Justice, 220 S. Main St., by Crown Point Mayor David Uran, South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Speros Batistatos, Lake County Sheriff Rogelio "Roy" Dominguez and Porter County Sheriff David Lain.
"We don't want to lose sight ... that this is about good versus evil," Lain said, speaking to the about 300 attendees at the sold-out event. "Let's not forget good won. John Dillinger died because he was a thug."
One of the biggest flurries of excitement on the red carpet was when Crown Point resident Jim Drackert dropped down on one knee to ask his girlfriend of three months, Joanna LaBelle, of Park Forest, Ill., to marry him.
"I knew from the first time I met her," Drackert said. "She has a wonderful heart."
Inside the Hall of Justice, the party was in full swing with waiters circling with trays of Shrimp Alexander and bruschetta. Many of the women wore vintage hats with feathers accompanied by men in pinstripes. A table full of elegant cakes took up a corner and a buffet of cheese and fruit lined one wall. A live auction and the sales of tickets netted close to $10,000 for the Old Sheriff's House Foundation.
Erin Newell, director of Film Indiana, said Crown Point holds a special place in her heart because she uses it as an example of working with the film industry in Indiana.


Jessica A. Woolf | The Times Attendees to the VIP party at the Hall of Justice receive tours of the Lake County Jail on Tuesday prior to the event in Crown Point.


Jessica A. Woolf | The Times VIPs get their photos taken Tuesday before walking the red carpet outside Hall of Justice in Crown Point at the special screening of "Public Enemies" in Hobart.


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