NW Indiana sheriff, mayor, other officials charged with bribery

HAMMOND, Ind. — A federal grand jury has indicted a northwestern Indiana sheriff, his top deputy and a mayor, accusing them of collecting bribes for contracts for towing and other services.

The indictments announced Friday name Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, Chief Deputy Tim Downs, Portage Mayor James Snyder and tow company owners William Szarmach of Lake Station and John Cortina of Portage.

The FBI last week raided Buncich's offices in Crown Point, Indiana, 45 miles southeast of Chicago.

Prosecutors say Buncich received over $25,000 in cash and $7,000 in checks from Szarmach and an unnamed individual for towing contracts in Gary and Lake County.

Snyder is accused of receiving $12,000 from Cortina and the same unnamed individual for towing contracts in Portage. He's also charged with receiving $13,000 for other city contracts or projects.