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John Buncich arrives for sentencing

Former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, right, and attorney Bryan Truitt approach the U.S. courthouse and federal building before Buncich's sentencing in January of 2018.

CHICAGO — A federal appeals court has upheld the bribery conviction of former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled late Wednesday there was enough evidence to support a jury’s 2017 verdict against Buncich on two fraud and one bribery counts.

The appeals court did reverse three other fraud counts against Buncich and ordered U.S. District Court Judge James Moody to resentence Buncich later this year in light of the reduction of guilty verdicts against Buncich.

Buncich has been serving a 188-month sentence since his sentencing in January 2018, after a federal jury in Hammond found him guilty of soliciting and receiving illegal payments from towing firms angling for lucrative towing work from Lake County police.

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The conviction appeared to be in trouble last year when a government attorney conceded the appeals court should reverse three wire fraud counts over technical issues concerning what evidence should have been presented at Buncich’s 2017 trial.

Highland attorney Kerry C. Connor argued March 26 at the 7th Circuit Court headquarters in Chicago’s downtown loop that the government’s case against Buncich was fatally flawed by insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

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Buncich contended during testimony at his trial all of the money he received was legitimate campaign donations. The government contended they were bribes towing firms paid to curry favor with Buncich, who had sole authority over the most lucrative towing locations in the county.

The 73-year-old former law enforcement officer is currently housed in a U.S. Bureau of Prison Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri.

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