I’ve never met Scott Jurgensen, and I’m not too sure I want to.

He’s the retired Merrillville cop who started a towing company when he got out of police work.

He’s also the guy who testified last week in federal court as an FBI informant against Lake County Sheriff John Buncich.

Jurgensen didn’t team up with the FBI as a matter of kindness or devotion to country.

No, the FBI paid him handsomely to go undercover and dig up the dirt against Buncich. The feds gave him a cool $130,000 over five years.

Jurgensen had told the FBI, according to trial testimony, he couldn’t get towing contracts because he wouldn’t pay bribes.

Yet Jurgensen said he was on the county tow list — without having paid a bribe — when he started drawing $26,000 a year from the FBI. Jurgensen said the FBI asked him to start paying bribes in exchange for his FBI payments.

While this may stink to high-heaven in the eyes of some — or perhaps many — it’s all perfectly legal.

There’s something repugnant about our government paying someone — particularly a retired police officer — to go underground to give the FBI the goods it needs to make a case.

I’d like to think the FBI is sharp enough to bring charges without paying an informant. I guess it is a whole lot easier to let someone else do the work.

But having someone else do the work is called entrapment, which I think is the last thing a law enforcement agency would like to be accused of doing. It’s not a terribly professional thing.

Given the guilty verdict on Thursday, the government likely is thinking the money paid to Jurgensen was well spent. I guess the government also will have to live with that decision.

Regardless, life will go on. It will be better for some and worse for others.

I can’t imagine it will be terribly good for Jurgensen.

He will forever be known as the snake who wore a wire to bring down the sheriff. Or he will be known as the guy who stood up and did what was right — knowing he was being paid a tidy sum of money.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjamescolumns@gmail.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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