Lake Co. sheriff indicted on felony, misdemeanor charges

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A northwest Indiana sheriff indicted on charges of resisting law enforcement and reckless driving has denied the allegations, blaming them on a “political witch hunt.”

A Lake County grand jury indicted Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. on Thursday after considering evidence and testimony over two days, said special prosecutor Stanley Levco. He said Martinez would be issued a court summons.

The charges stem from a Sept. 18 incident in which Crown Point police said officers saw a black SUV traveling “at what appeared to be at a speed well above the 45 mph posted limit.”

The felony resisting law enforcement indictment alleges Martinez “knowingly or intentionally” fled from the officers after they turned on their lights and sirens, “identified themselves and ordered” him to stop.

Crown Point police said the SUV continued into adjacent Merrillville, but as the officers approached the SUV’s driver activated emergency police lights, giving notice that it was an unmarked police car and prompting the officers to end their pursuit.

The misdemeanor reckless driving count alleges Martinez recklessly operated “a motor vehicle by driving at such an unreasonably high rate of speed as to endanger the safety or property of others.”

Martinez denied the allegations Thursday in a statement and said they “were initiated by a rival politician” whom he did not name.

“As this matter unfolds, it will come to light that this is nothing more than a political witch hunt,” he said in the statement.

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