HAMMOND — A federal judge has sentenced former Sheriff John Buncich to immediately begin serving a 188-month prison term — a little more than 15 years — for public corruption.
The man who had been the face of law enforcement in Lake County for decades appeared stunned by the pronouncement, which his lawyer, Bryan Truitt, called tantamount to a death sentence for his 72-year-old client.
U.S. District Court Judge James Moody refused the usual courtesy to public corruption figures, the freedom to report directly to his federal penitentiary at a later date.
Moody said the embarrassment Buncich caused to his police department and the harm he caused to Lake County’s reputation in the state was staggering and denounced Buncich’s abuse of power for self-enrichment and his “blind obedience to the political cult. Shame on you.”
Buncich’s voice was reduced to a whisper after learning of his sentence. He only had time to briefly look back to the court audience, which contained a number of his supporters, before court security officers led Buncich in restraints out of the court and into a holding cell.
The court also imposed a $250,000 fine on Buncich.
U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch II said his office requested Buncich be detained immediately for fear he would flee to avoid having to serve such a lengthy sentence. Kirsch said there was evidence of large amounts of “unexplained cash” associated with Buncich’s bank accounts.
Truitt said it was ridiculous to believe a man of Buncich’s age and poor finances would be able to live long on the run. Truitt said his client will appeal the conviction and sentence within weeks.
Source: Northwest Indiana Times