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NW Indiana mayor convicted of taking bribe that impacted city contracts

Portage Mayor James Snyder | City of Portage

A federal grand jury found a northwest Indiana mayor guilty of bribery Thursday after he allegedly solicited and took a payoff that influenced lucrative city contracts.

Portage Mayor James Snyder, 38, was found guilty of the bribery charge, as well as a single count of obstruction of internal revenue laws, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Officer for the Northern District of Illinois. He was acquitted of an additional count of bribery.

From 2012 to 2014, Snyder solicited and pocketed a $13,000 check that was used to influence a series of contracts the city awarded, including contracts approved by the Portage Board of Works that totaled more than $1.1 million, prosecutors said.

Snyder was also convicted of hiding cash to avoid paying the IRS personal taxes and taxes owed by his mortgage business, Financial Trust Mortgage LLC in Portage, prosecutors said.

In addition to secretly diverting funds from his business to a sole proprietorship he created, Snyder also submitted tax forms that failed to disclose the existence of the holding and its bank account, among other things, prosecutors said.

The bribery conviction is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, while the obstruction count carries a maximum prison sentence of 3 years, prosecutors said.