HAMMOND | Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist's niece was among four people arrested Wednesday during searches of homes in Gary and Hammond, officials said.
Amber Soderquist, 24, of Hammond, faces charges of dealing in a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance, according to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff's Department. Her grandmother, Jane Soderquist, confirmed that Keith Soderquist is the woman's uncle.
Lake County officers searched a home in the 6500 block of Grand Avenue in Hammond after receiving tips that there was illegal activity going on in the home.
According to the release, officers found 10 grams of cocaine, ecstasy and molly in the home. Molly is a form of ecstasy.
Along with Amber Soderquist, Malawchee Gray, 38, of Matteson, Ill., was arrested and faces the same charges, police said.
Lake County deputies also searched a home in the 300 block of Fillmore Street in Gary where officers found 22 grams of heroin, cocaine and a stolen handgun.
Zachary Artis and Carlton Spurlock, both 40, and of Gary, were arrested in that raid. Both face charges of dealing a narcotic drug, possession of a controlled substance and being a felon in possession of a handgun, according to the news release.
Amber Soderquist previously pleaded guilty in 2011 in Lake County Criminal Court to a charge of possession of cocaine and was sentenced to probation, according to court records.
Keith Soderquist did not return a phone call and email seeking comment. Jane Soderquist said she was surprised by the charges and said her granddaughter is a good person.
Keith Soderquist is facing pending federal charges in a different matter. He and his wife, Deborah Soderquist, are accused of pocketing city food pantry funds and campaign funds. According to court records, the couple used some of the money at local casinos and failed to report the money on tax returns.
His stepdaughter, Miranda Brakley, also is facing federal charges and is accused of stealing at least $5,000 from the Lake Station City Court, according to court records. The mayor and his wife are accused of helping conceal the alleged theft.