Lake County investigating unreported driving suspensions

Prosecutors in northwest Indiana are investigating whether a former Lake Station city clerk intentionally didn’t send convictions in drunken driving cases to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Prosecutor Bernard Carter said he suspects that former clerk Miranda Brakley refused to send about 500 to 600 driving suspensions to the state from 2008 to 2012, The (Munster) Times reported. Brakley’s stepfather is former Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist, who is awaiting sentencing on a federal theft charge.

“I am just appalled,” Carter said.

Brakley pleaded guilty in January to embezzling about $16,000 from Lake Station City Court. Her attorney, Thomas Vance, said she is being made into a convenient scapegoat in the drunken driving cases. “How do they know she did this?” Vance said. “There were multiple clerks in the (city) court system.”

Lake Station Mayor Christopher Anderson, a former judge who was Brakley’s supervisor and fired her in 2012, blames Brakely as well. He said the problem was uncovered during an investigation into why the city court didn’t submit a 2011 reckless driving conviction for Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council business manager Randolph L. Palmateer.

“Now we are going to start going through all these old files and figuring out what the extent of it is,” Anderson said.

Josh Gillespie, deputy commissioner of communications for the Indiana BMV, said the situation could mean headaches for motorists whose driving privileges were supposed to be suspended years ago but the paperwork was never sent to the state. If old suspensions weren’t carried out, they will be enforced now, Gillespie said.

A city official alerted the state agency about the missing data and told them they may have to process as many as 800 previously missing records, Gillespie said.

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