Public Corruption Indictments Returned in Hammond Federal Court
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 16, 2014|
HAMMOND, IN—United States Attorney David Capp announced today two indictments naming Keith Soderquist, the mayor of Lake Station.
The first indictment charges Soderquist, age 44, and his wife, Deborah Soderquist, age 55, who was employed as the administrative assistant to Mayor Soderquist.
The indictment alleges a conspiracy between Keith and Deborah Soderquist to commit wire fraud in connection with financial transactions involving the mayor’s campaign finance account and the Lake Station Food Pantry account. These accounts were allegedly utilized by the Soderquists to obtain cash for personal expenses, including gambling activities at casinos in Indiana and Michigan.
The indictment also charges both Keith and Deborah Soderquist with filing false tax returns for the years 2010, 2011, and 2012. The basis for the tax charges is their failure to disclose the money they took from the campaign and food pantry account that they converted to their own personal uses.
The second indictment names Keith Soderquist, Deborah Soderquist, and Miranda Brakley, age 33, a former employee of Lake Station. Brakley is charged in count one of the second indictment with theft of funds from Lake Station from August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2012. Brakley is also charged in count two with bankruptcy fraud for failing to disclose certain payments received from Lake Station on her bankruptcy schedules. Keith and Deborah Soderquist are charged in count three of the second indictment for being accessories after the fact. That count alleges that, after knowing that Brakley had committed the theft alleged in count one, they assisted Brakley in order to hinder and prevent Brakley’s apprehension, trial, and punishment.
The last count alleges that Keith and Deborah Soderquist structured a series of financial transactions in order to avoid the reporting requirements under federal law. The indictment alleges that in December 2012, the Soderquists obtained $15,000 from an individual. They instructed that individual to write three checks in amounts less than $10,000 (the reporting requirement under federal law) and to back date two of those checks. From December 8-12, 2012, those checks were cashed at different branches of JP Morgan Chase bank.
The investigation that led to the second indictment was initiated after a State Board of Accounts audit disclosed missing funds that had been posted as bond money with the Lake Station City Court. United States Attorney David Capp stated, “These indictments are part of this office’s ongoing public corruption investigation. Today’s indictments were the result of an extensive investigative effort by the FBI, IRS, and ISP. This investigative team will continue to investigate allegations of abuse of the public trust.”
The Soderquists and Brakley are expected to surrender to authorities at the Hammond federal courthouse Thursday morning. This case is a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Indiana State Police. This case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Kolar and Philip Benson.
The United States Attorney’s Office emphasized that an indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.