Former Lake County sheriff sentenced to over 15 years

HAMMOND, Ind. -- Former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich was sentenced to 188 months, or 15 years and eight months, on Tuesday for his role in a bribery scheme.

Buncich, 72, accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from tow truck companies, in exchange for getting county business.

In court, Buncich called Tuesday the darkest day of his life, and said he feels remorse for those he hurt or let down.

Buncich was taken into custody right after the judge gave the sentence.

His lawyer pleaded with the judge not to hand down a stiff sentence. The defense argued for no more than a five year prison sentence.

Buncich’s attorneys argued during his two week trial last year that the former sheriff was set up by the FBI and that the money was actually campaign contributions and not bribes.  Still a jury found him guilty.

His attorney said he plans to appeal not only the sentence but the verdict and will ask that Buncich be released on bond in the meantime. If not, he has the judge to recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that Buncich serve his time at the federal prison in Yankton, South Dakota.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors said they have formed a public corruption task force that will be working to root out public corruption in the northern district of Indiana.