July 9, 2018-United States Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch has announced that former Lake County Police Chief Timothy Downs and William Szarmach, owner of CSA Towing, both received suspended sentences and 2 years probation after pleading guilty to honest services fraud.
U.S. Attorney Kirsch said, “Public corruption is a top priority of my office. 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 officials.”
Downs was sentenced to 2 years probation and ordered to pay a fine of $6000.
Szarmach, who in addition to honest services wire fraud also entered a plea of guilty to bribery, was also sentenced to 2 years probation and ordered to pay restitution to the IRS.
According to 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 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.