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Lake Station, Indiana, mayor facing corruption trial over campaign withdrawals

The mayor of Lake Station, Indiana, is set to go to trial on federal charges accusing him and his wife of taking more than $20,000 from his campaign account to cover casino gambling losses.

Mayor Keith Soderquist and his wife Deborah Soderquist are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and filing false tax returns.

The trial is set to begin Monday in federal court in Hammond, Indiana.

Prosecutors say in court filings that the couple made more than 40 ATM withdrawals from the mayor’s campaign fund within 24 hours of their visits to casinos from 2010 to 2012.

They say the couple lost more than $160,000 at casinos during a six-year period ending in 2013 and plan to present receipts that the couple gave investigators that supposedly explained how money from the mayor’s campaign fund was used. Instead, they say those receipts were an attempt to hide that they had used it on gambling trips.

Defense attorney Scott King has said Keith Soderquist might be responsible for sloppy reporting of campaign finances but that he and his wife did nothing illegal.

King, who was once mayor of Gary, said the couple’s withdrawals were reimbursements to themselves for political expenses and that no fraud occurred.

Keith Soderquist has remained mayor of the 13,000-person city just east of Gary since he and his wife were indicted in April 2014. He was first elected mayor in 2008 but was badly beaten in May’s Democratic primary, ending his bid for a third term.

The mayor and his wife each face one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of filing a false income tax return.

The jury trial in U.S. District Court in Hammond is expected to last four to five days.