A former northwestern Indiana sheriff has been resentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison for accepting bribes from towing businesses.
A federal judge in Hammond sentenced John Buncich on Wednesday to 151 months — three years less than the former Lake County sheriff’s original sentence in 2017. The resentencing followed a partially successful appeal that still left Buncich with three felony convictions for bribery and fraud. Bunch was also ordered to pay a $35,000 fine and he agreed to forfeiture of $38,000, according to US Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana Thomas Kirsch.
The former four-term Democratic sheriff was convicted in August 2017 on five counts of wire fraud and one count of bribery alleging that he was paid bribes in exchange for awarding lucrative towing work.
Buncich, 74, appeared before Senior Judge James Moody in federal court in Hammond on Wednesday wearing an orange jumpsuit and having lost nearly 100 pounds during his last 30 months of imprisonment, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.
His defense attorney, Kerry Connor, had asked that Buncich be released immediately and warned that anything longer “would be a life sentence for him.”
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Benson argued that Buncich’s weight loss and the medical care he’s received in prison have left him in better medical condition than before his incarceration.
“Buncich betrayed the public trust when he took bribes for personal gain,” Kirsch said in a press release applauding the resentencing. “The sentence imposed today should send a strong message of deterrence to others who might consider engaging in the same illegal conduct as Buncich. We will continue to be vigilant and aggressive in our efforts to root out public corruption wherever it exists across the district.”