Ex-Merrillville councilman gets 15 months for bribery

A former Merrillville town councilman was sentenced to 15 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge, with the court acknowledging he had already forfeited $7,500 to the United States.

Thomas Goralczyk, 51, was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen after he knowingly and corruptly solicited, demanded, accepted and agreed to accept bribes in exchange for a towing contract between the Town of Merrillville and a witness cooperating with the FBI.

While serving as a Merrillville town councilman, Goralczyk accepted a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a 2008 Ford Focus, 4 camper tires and free storage for his personal motorcycle from the witness, on the promise he would use his influence as a Merrillville councilman to steer a towing contract to the informant’s towing company.

The former councilman presented false bills of sale for both vehicles to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. He obtained the Jeep Grand Cherokee for $400 when he knew the value was more than $2500, telling the BMV he paid $1000 for the vehicle. He also accepted the Ford Focus whose value was greater than $5000. He paid nothing for this vehicle but presented a false bill of sale to the BMV indicating that he paid $2750.

“Public corruption will not be tolerated at any level,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas L Kirsch II.  “Public officials, like Mr. Goralczyk, elected and entrusted to do the public’s work, are required to do that work free from self-dealing and graft.  Today’s sentence sends a strong message of deterrence to others that want to engage in these activities.”

Goralczyk was elected as a Merrillville Town Councilman in 2007 and took office in January 2008.  He was re-elected in 2011 and began his 2nd term as 4th ward councilman in January of 2012.  He served as President of the Town Council in 2011 and 2015.

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