Guilty plea in Lake County Sheriff’s Department bribery case

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich (Photo supplied/Lake County Sheriff's Department)

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — The second-in-command at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a bribery case in which the sheriff and a tow truck operator also are charged.

Chief of Police Timothy Downs entered the plea Friday. Court documents say the 65-year-old Downs also resigned Friday from the sheriff’s department, ending a tenure of more than 37 years.

Downs told U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano that doing political fundraising while on duty and using his publicly provided police car was wrong, but did so on the orders of Sheriff John Buncich.

Buncich attorney Bryan Truitt said the sheriff “is very proud of his honest public service and his good works, and is completely innocent.”

Prosecutors say Buncich took more than $32,000 in bribes for towing contracts.

RELATED: Lake County Sheriff, Portage Mayor indicted in bribery scheme

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