Tag Archives: State Board of Accounts

Sources Say LS Mayor, Wife Targets of FBI Probe

16 Nov

by Ken Davidson

 

On Friday FBI agents walked into the offices of Lake Station, Indiana at 1969 Central Avenue and ordered all employees to step away from their computers according to sources close to the investigation.  Although the Gazette has confirmed no computers were seized, the FBI reportedly got all the information it needed by using high tech equipment to download from the City servers.  This represents a significant step in an ongoing investigation.  You will recall that the indictment and arrest of George VanTil, the most recent indicted politician in Lake County, was preceded by a similar public FBI raid.  Not only is judicial review in the form of  a warrant required before FBI agents can take such action, the US Department of Justice has strict guidelines dealing with public corruption cases.

Sources say that the crux of the investigation centers around two incidents.   The first relates to using campaign funds for personal use.  Sources tell me this aspect of the case is unclear.  Several point to various expenses which appear to be personal but there is none that stands out when viewing reports of similar local politicians.

The second investigation is related to an “add-on” charge by a street contractor.  According to a source close to the investigation, the Mayor suggested he would get an additional charge approved on a construction project that was in progress.  In exchange, the contractor would pay the Mayor’s wife a sum of money.  Such charges are often scrutinized by the State Board of Accounts as well as Federal Prosecutors because they can be used to award bids to friendly contractors.  In many cases, the bid comes in low and the contractor then submits additional charges which are approved by the municipality.  Other contractors have no opportunity to compete because they are not assured of having additional charges approved later.  In this case, however, sources say the contract was awarded prior to the time of Soderquist’s election.

Soderquist is also on the governing board of the Lake County Democratic Organization.  If indicted, Soderquist would be the second current sitting member who is under federal indictment.

Lake Station Indiana FBI raid

A Lake Station construction contract appears to be at the center of a recent FBI raid on city offices.

FBI Visits LakeStation IN.

15 Nov

FBI agents arrived at the office of Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist on Friday. Federal investigators had subpoenaed documents from Lake Station’s Board of Works. Sources say the computers were removed from the building and at least Three FBI agents were seen going into City Hall and talking to the Mayor.
In February, the State Board of Accounts audit ordered Soderquist’s stepdaughter Miranda Brakley , former court employee, To repay the city $13,130, money she wrongly received after she was fired in 2012. Miranda Brakey was a deputy court clerk responsible for collecting bond payments for the Lake Station. In 39 cases she neglicted to deposit The Funds totaling $16,464. A week after she was fired, the Lake Station City Council, moved two deputy positions from City Court Judge Christopher Anderson’s budget to the Clerk-Treasurer’s purview and Brakley was rehired. She received $468 for seven days vacation and $12,661 for unused compensatory and sick time even thought she only had 30 minutes of vacation remaining . Two weeks later, Lake County Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins issued a temporary restraining order against the Brakley’s rehiring…. more to follow later.