Ex-Portage mayor stays free from prison for appeal of bribery conviction

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Former Portage, Ind., Mayor James Snyder

Former Portage, Ind., Mayor James Snyder and his family arrive to Federal Court in Hammond, Ind., for his sentencing on bribery and tax violation charges Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Kyle Telechan/Chicago Tribune via AP)

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — A former Northwest Indiana mayor is being allowed to stay out of prison while he appeals his conviction on bribery and tax evasion charges.

A federal judge ruled this past week that former Portage Mayor James Snyder had legitimate issues for appeal and could remain free on bond rather than surrender on Jan. 5 to begin serving a 21-month prison sentence.

Judge Matthew Kennelly, who took just a few minutes during a teleconference call to issue his ruling, said if Snyder’s appeal was successful, it would throw out the prison term that he ordered for Snyder in October, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

A jury convicted Snyder in March of taking a $13,000 bribe in 2014 in return for steering a $1.1 million city contract for garbage trucks from a trucking company.

Snyder, a Republican, has maintained his innocence, testifying during his trial that the money was payment for consulting work that he declared on his income tax returns.

Snyder’s attorneys argued that prosecutors didn’t prove that Snyder and the trucking company owners “made a quid pro quo agreement” for awarding the garbage truck contract.

Snyder, 43, won elections as mayor in 2011 and 2015. He was indicted on the bribery charges in 2016 and was removed from office in 2019 when he was first convicted in the case. A judge later threw out that verdict, ruling that aggressive tactics by prosecutors denied Snyder a fair trial.

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