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Jon Snyder

Porter County Assessor Jon M. Snyder at the U.S. Courthouse in Hammond.

HAMMOND — Porter County Assessor Jon M. Snyder pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor tax charge in U.S. District Court, clearing the way for his cooperation with federal officials prosecuting his brother, Portage Mayor James Snyder, in an unrelated corruption case.

Jon Snyder, 42, was read and waived his trial rights before admitting his private company, Shoreline Appraisals Inc., failed to file a tax form informing the IRS he paid $6,000 to an independent contractor in 2013 to provide his company services.

The assessor was required under federal law to file an Informational Return 1099 Form by Feb. 28, 2014, informing the IRS he hired the independent contractor and how much the contractor was paid.

"Guilty, your honor," Jon Snyder told Magistrate Judge John E. Martin, when asked how he pleaded to willful failure to supply information to the IRS. 

Snyder said he had a college degree and suffered no mental illness or addiction, which would impair his ability to understand Tuesday's proceeding. The assessor said he was born in Charleston, West Virginia.

Jon Snyder was arraigned Oct. 19 on the misdemeanor charge. Under the terms of a plea agreement filed later that day, he agreed to “cooperate fully, truthfully and candidly” with the U.S. attorney's office in unspecified criminal investigations.

Matthew Fech, defense attorney for Jon Snyder, previously confirmed his client was a cooperating witness against James Snyder, who is awaiting trial on felony bribery and extortion charges related to Portage towing vendors and public works contracts, as well as tax evasion charges related to his private business.

Fech said Tuesday Jon Snyder accepted responsibility for his actions as it related to his private business. Fech said Snyder's offense was unrelated to his work as Porter County assessor, and his client had no plans to resign from office.

Fech said, personally, he hoped any elected official that committed criminal acts while in office would accept responsibility for their actions.

Snyder is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 27, though he agreed the U.S. attorney could defer his sentencing hearing until his cooperation is complete.

Willful failure to supply information to the IRS carries a maximum sentence of one-year incarceration and a fine of $100,000. The government agreed it would recommend the judge sentence Snyder to the minimum allowed under federal guidelines, though the judge is not required to follow the recommendation.

Prosecutors also agreed Snyder would face no further criminal tax charges for the 2008 through 2013 tax years.

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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.