(AP) — A northwestern Indiana mayor pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal
charges that he and his wife took more than $18,000 from his campaign
account at the same time they had big casino gambling losses.
Mayor Keith Soderquist, his wife Deborah Soderquist, and stepdaughter
entered the pleas during a federal court hearing a day after prosecutors
announced grand jury indictments charging them with wire fraud and filing
false tax returns.
Scott King said Soderquist might be responsible for sloppy reporting of
campaign finances, but that he and his wife did nothing illegal.
"Every penny they
ever received from the campaign fund was reimbursement for expenses they
had personally incurred on behalf of the campaign. Therefore, there is no
act of fraud," King told reporters after Thursday's court hearing.
charges the couple made numerous withdrawals between spring 2010 and late
2012 at the same time that they lost $104,000 at area casinos.
Another charge is
that they cashed a $300 check from the city that was intended for the Lake
Station Food Pantry. About two hours after the check was cashed in July
2011, both were gambling at a New Buffalo, Mich., casino, according to the
King, a former
Gary mayor, said his client did nothing wrong, and criticized prosecutors
for trying to tie bank transactions with a later trip to a casino. Keith
Soderquist will continue serving as mayor while he contests the charges,
so what? What is that proving?" King said.
Democrat, was first elected mayor of the 13,000-person city just east of
Gary in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. Deborah Soderquist is her
husband's mayoral administrative assistant and has been treasurer of his
They are also
charged with helping the mayor's stepdaughter hide the theft of at least
$5,000 from the Lake Station City Court.
surrendered to federal authorities Thursday, and appeared in handcuffs in
court before being released on $40,000 bonds.