Former Sheriff Facing Lengthy Prison Sentence

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(photo courtesy of our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana) (photo courtesy of our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana)

Federal prosecutors are seeking a hefty prison sentence for former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Benson is asking a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to impose a prison term of up to 20 years for Buncich after pleading guilty to fraud and bribery charges last August.

The sentencing hearing for Buncich is scheduled for January 16. Benson is also asking Judge James Moody to have the 72-year-old placed in custody immediately following the hearing because Buncich is considered a flight risk, according to the publication.

Benson cites Buncich's friendship with former East Chicago city councilman Frank Kollintzas, who fled the country 13 years ago after being convicted on corruption charges. Kollintzas currently lives in Greece, where there is no extradition to the U.S.

"Given Buncich's age, a sentence imposed at this level raises serious doubts as to Buncich's desire to appear to serve out this sentence," said Benson.

Buncich was accused of illegally receiving tens of thousands of dollars related to towing contracts. He was indicted in November 2016 along with his chief deputy, Timothy Downs, and CSA Towing Owner William Szarmach. He was allowed to remain free on bond after pleading guilty last year.

Both Downs and Szarmach pleaded guilty and testified against Buncich. You can read more about the case from The Times of Northwest Indiana by clicking here.

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