by Ken Davidson
“The truth is irrelevant to him.” That is a quote which the Times of Northwest Indiana attributed to George Van Til while he was lying to all of us about stealing from us. Of course, Van Til was referring to his challenger and not to himself. Today he finally admitted that he is a thief and a liar. The only surprise was the timing of the announcement. The only question that remains to me is whether or not he will part with some of his purported information in order to save his own skin. No matter what happens, Van Til is not likely to spend significant time in prison. Although his conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, it appears that he may do as little as ten months behind bars.
Van Til will officially enter a plea to Six Counts of Wire Fraud. That is six counts of stealing from the people of Lake County, Indiana. In short, Van Til will admit that he used employees who were being paid by the taxpayers for his personal campaign. The Plea Agreement, signed by Van Til states:
I did knowingly and intentionally request and direct some employees of the Lake
County Surveyor’s Office to engage in political campaign work while they were
being paid with Lake County governmental funds. Furthermore, I knew that while
doing this campaign work at the Lake County Surveyor’s Office, these employees
were using Lake County property and equipment to engage in political activity.
The maximum penalty that can be imposed is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Van Til is not expected to receive anywhere near that amount of time. The agreement calls for the Assistant United States Attorney involved to argue for the minimum sentence under federal guidelines. The Sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 10-24 months*. Thus, Van Til is likely to receive a ten month sentence pursuant to the plea agreement. The agreement specifically allows for Van Til to ask for home detention or some other means. The Agreement makes clear the Government will oppose any such request:
Although the defendant is free to argue that the sentence imposed (guideline or non-guideline) be satisfied by any means available under the sentencing guidelines, or 18 USC 3553, under no circumstances will the government make any recommendation for a term of probation, home detention, or community confinement and will oppose any request for a non-guideline and non-incarceration sentence.
The major difference in the 24 month sentence and the ten months he is likely to receive, involves the reduction in sentence for “acceptance of responsibility.” The difference between a plea and a trial in this matter is about 41 months because the Obstruction of Justice charge is a level 14 base offense under Guidelines. As stated below, the wire fraud charge is a level 7 base offense.
Van Til becomes the 84th Lake County democrat to plead guilty to federal charges. None has ever been charged or convicted by Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter.
*Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Wire Fraud:
Base Offense Level: 7 (0-6 mo sentence)
Enhancements in this case: 8 points
Credits in this case: 2 points
Total Points for sentencing: 13, guideline sentence: 12-18 months
The Plea Agreement calls for an additional one point reduction in sentencing provided Van Til cooperates with Government officials. That would reduce the sentence from 12 months to 10 months.