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Commissioner sued over deal with firm

– An Elkhart County commissioner is facing a federal lawsuit alleging that he used his position to profit from a deal with a Chinese-owned business.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in South Bend alleges that Elkhart County Commissioner Terry Rodino used his elected position to facilitate the sale of five recreational vehicles to the Chinese-owned business and earned at least $100,000 as the deal’s middle man.

The Elkhart Truth reports the suit was filed by Rodino’s two estranged business partners, Amit Shah and Tim Dugle, and represents the latest salvo in their ongoing legal battle with him.

Their suit also claims Rodino’s partner in the company that engineered the $1.63 million RV transaction, American Travel Palace, also profited from the transaction.

The suit says that because of those profits and other alleged misdeeds Rodino, the president of the county’s board of commissioners, violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The RICO act created to help prosecutors go after organized crime can be the basis for civil lawsuits.

Shah and Dugle’s suit alleges that Elkhart businessman Aaron Zou – Rodino’s partner in American Travel Palace – made a $30,000 “kick-back” to Rodino “as Elkhart County commissioner.”