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Sheriff John Buncich with Deborah Back

Former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich and Deborah Back, to his immediate left, holding his arm, leave federal court in August after he was found guilty of felony bribery.

CROWN POINT — Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter announced Friday he won't press charges against a former County Jail nursing director for using a police database to help former Sheriff John Buncich spy on government witnesses accusing him of corruption.

Carter stated in a written press release, "Criminal charges will not be filed against Deborah Back, former nursing director for the Lake County Jail. Back's improper use of the sheriff's internal database system was directed by former Sheriff John Buncich and therefore criminal intent could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Her unauthorized access to the restricted police data system came to light Jan. 16 when she took the witness stand to testify at Buncich's sentencing hearing.

A federal grand jury indicted Buncich Nov. 17, 2016, on honest government service fraud and bribery counts alleging the sheriff sold his public office to the towing firm that gave him the most campaign contributions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Benson accused Back with twice using her access to the Lake County Sheriff Department's Spillman's data system after the indictment to investigate the government's lead investigators against Buncich.

Back responded in January, "I know it was wrong." Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. banned her from working in the Sheriff's Department shortly after her admission.

Back had access to the system because of her position at the Lake County Jail, a job that paid between $158,000 and $230,000 a year — more than Buncich, who made $146,000 annually. She said she routinely used it to determine the medical status of jail inmates.

Back and the sheriff had been dating for four years — two years after she first began working at the jail — and they have been living together recently. Benson said federal authorities arrested Buncich at her Crown Point home in November 2016 when he was first indicted on bribery charges.

Buncich also employed her son, Mark Back, as his public relations spokesman in 2015 and in 2016.

A jury convicted Buncich of bribery and wire fraud after a 15-day jury trial in August. Buncich is serving a prison sentence of 15 years, 6 months in a federal secure medical facility in Springfield, Missouri.

Back couldn't be reached for comment. She no longer works in the sheriff's department, according to Dr. William Forgey, the jail's medical director and owner of Correctional Health Indiana Inc., which has provided medical services to jail inmates since 2012.

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Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.