The former chief of
the Lake County Sheriff’s Police and a tow operator have been sentenced to
probation after pleading guilty to honest services wire fraud, in connection
with the bribery scandal which engulfed the former Lake County Sheriff John
Buncich, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana is
Former LCSP chief
Timothy Downs, 67, of Monticello, was sentenced to years of probation and
ordered to pay a fine of $6,000.
61, of Hobart--who owns CSA Towing in Lake Station and also pleaded guilty
to one count of bribery--was also sentenced to two years of probation and
ordered to pay restitution to the IRS.
documents in this case, from February 2014 continuing into October 2016,
Buncich, Downs and Szarmach devised a scheme to deprive the citizens of Lake
County of their right to the honest services of the Sheriff’s Office,” the
U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “The scheme was designed to enrich Buncich
personally and his campaign committee, known as Buncich Boosters. The
documents detail a number of checks and cash payments, often collected by
Downs, from Szarmach and an Individual A in exchange for Buncich awarding
county towing business and towing in the City of Gary for ordinance
violations. Individual A is the owner of a tow truck business who
voluntarily came forward and cooperated with the United States during the
course of this investigation.”
previously convicted of bribery and wire fraud and is serving a sentence of
15 years and six months in a federal prison.
is a top priority of my office,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch said. “Mr.
Downs and Mr. Szarmach’s immediate cooperation was instrumental in the
prosecution of former Sheriff John Buncich and the court’s sentence reflects
these acts. For those involved in public corruption, my office has a team of
investigators that are working on investigating all leads related to all
acts of public corruption. I encourage anyone with information about such
possible corruption to report it to me or to the FBI. Citizens demand, and
in fact deserve, honest public service from their elected and appointed
The case was being
investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue
Service, Criminal Investigation Division; and the Department of Labor,
Office of Inspector General.