Several months after former Portage Mayor James Snyder appealed his federal bribery and tax violation convictions, the government has responded with a 77-page reply asking the court to uphold the outcome of the case.
The response, in part, defends the federal court’s decision not to dismiss the indictment or disqualify the prosecution team based on the government’s approach to filtering out privileged materials from emails obtained from Snyder.
The court also acted correctly in declining to dismiss one count based on the statute of limitations, federal prosecutors said.
“The court correctly found that defendant endeavored to obstruct and impede the IRS’s collection of his personal and business tax debts, that his efforts on these two fronts were interrelated, and that his obstructive conduct, as charged in the indictment, continued into the applicable limitations period,” the response reads.
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Prosecutors further argue the court correctly determined Snyder’s conviction of obstructing the IRS tax collection efforts was supported by sufficient evidence.
“Based on all the evidence, a rational jury could conclude that defendant knowingly and corruptly endeavored to obstruct and impede the IRS’s collection of his unpaid business and personal taxes,” the response reads.
“The district court correctly rejected defendant’s motion to dismiss, request for additional jury instructions, and motion for judgment of acquittal, all of which were premised on the theory that defendant could not be convicted ... because the allegations and evidence showed he accepted a gratuity, rather than a bribe,” prosecutors said.
Snyder’s challenge is pending before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
The 44-year-old Republican was granted the right in December to remain free on bond rather than begin serving a 21-month prison sentence while his appeal moves forward.
The sentence handed down Oct. 13, 2021, by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly was well below the recommended sentencing guideline of 46 to 57 months.
Snyder was twice found guilty — most recently in March 2021 — of soliciting and accepting a $13,000 bribe in 2014 in return for steering a $1.125 million contract for the purchase of garbage trucks for the City of Portage to the local Great Lakes Peterbilt company.
Federal prosecutors said he also obstructed the Internal Revenue Service’s efforts to collect unpaid taxes on a private mortgage company he ran.
His appellate brief argues, in part, that the lower court erred in denying Snyder’s motions to disqualify the trial team and dismiss the indictment based on the government’s “intrusion into the Attorney-Client relationship, in violation of Mr. Snyder’s Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights.”
Snyder’s defense team further argues, “The evidence at trial did not support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Snyder had accepted a bribe or reward.”
Snyder, who has until Dec. 8 to respond, is requesting his convictions be reversed or that he be given a new trial.