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Merrillville attorney convicted of mail fraud

May 4, 2017

A Merrillville attorney who was disbarred nearly two years ago for embezzling from a receivership has been convicted of mail fraud in federal court related to that theft.

Robert E. Stochel, 64, was convicted Wednesday afternoon following a three-day trial in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond. Stochel was the receiver for Tip Top Supermarket, a defunct family-owned Lake County grocery store chain. He was accused of stealing from the receivership for more than 10 years, beginning in 2001, taking more than $330,000 for his personal use.

The government alleged Stochel engaged in a scheme to “delay whenever asked for an accounting of the Receivership Account, to prevent the discovery of his depletion of the account, and to lull the Receivership Beneficiaries into a (false) sense of security as to the health of the account.”

A jury deadlocked on the single mail-fraud charge against Stochel in December, leading to his retrial, which began Monday. Stochel had moved for acquittal of the charge, but Judge Rudy Lozano denied that motion in January.

The Indiana Supreme Court disbarred Stochel in June 2015. The Disciplinary Commission brought three counts against him, one of which related to his theft from the receivership and subsequent coverup of it. He also was disbarred for theft from a former law partner and his noncooperation with the disciplinary investigation.

Lozano set sentencing for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 15 at the courthouse in Hammond.
 

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