Portage Mayor James Snyder

Portage Mayor James Snyder delivers his State of the City address in February.

HAMMOND — Convicted former Portage Mayor James Snyder solicited a bribe from local truck company owners to pay for his family's Christmas and his tax debt, recently filed court documents allege.

Federal prosecutors filed the allegation in response to Snyder's request for a new trial.

Snyder was removed from office in February after a Hammond federal jury found him guilty of felony bribery and tax charges.

Prosecutors noted they based the recent filing on the grand jury testimony by former owners of Great Lakes Peterbilt, Steve and Bob Buha.

"The Buhas painted themselves as victims of a shakedown by Snyder — one they claimed to be unconnected to their company’s receipt of over $1.125 million in contracts from Portage just days earlier," the filing states.

"According to the Buhas, sometime after they were awarded the second round contract (Dec. 23, 2013) and approximately a week before they wrote the $13,000 check to Snyder (Jan. 10, 2014), Snyder showed up unannounced at GLPB and told them he needed $15,000 to pay for his family’s Christmas and tax debt he owed the IRS. And although he said he would work for the money, he needed it up front," prosecutors wrote in the filing.

Snyder, who was convicted Feb. 14 of taking $13,000 from the Buhas in exchange for steering contracts to them, has filed motions asking the courts to set aside the jury's verdict or have a new trial.

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Snyder also was convicted of tax obstruction for filing false documents and lying to the IRS in an effort to avoid paying personal and business taxes.

He was acquitted of a second bribery charge regarding an alleged tow-for-pay scheme.

Snyder is scheduled to be sentenced May 24 and faces up to 13 years in prison.

Snyder's former co-conspirator, towing company owner John Cortina, who pleaded guilty in the tow-for-pay scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced June 7.

Snyder's brother, Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder, who testified against James Snyder in the 19-day trial, pleaded guilty in federal court on an unrelated tax charge. Jon Snyder's sentencing is slated for June 4.

James Snyder requested a new trial contending prosecutors acted inappropriately, especially in the charge involving the Buhas. He contended prosecutors prevented the Buhas from testifying on Snyder's behalf.

Prosecutors refute those allegations in the recent court filing.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.