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Woman gets 4 months in prison for defrauding Cedar Lake softball club
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Woman gets 4 months in prison for defrauding Cedar Lake softball club

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A Lake Criminal Court judge sentenced a Michigan City man Friday to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting an 18-year-old man and wounding another after a fight last spring in Merrillville.

HAMMOND — A Portage woman must repay the money she stole from a Cedar Lake girls softball club she operated.

This episode of the "Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops" series takes viewers behind the armored vehicles and shields to see what it's like to be a part of the Lake County Sheriff's SWAT team.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Jon E DeGuilio imposed a 4-month sentence to be followed by four months of home detention Tuesday on 43-year-old Jessica Guska of Portage.

She pleaded guilty last year to defrauding Riptide Travel Softball, a girls sports organization for ages 10 to 16.

Guska pleaded guilty last year to diverting money members of the fast pitch teams and their coaching staff raised from the public between 2018 and 2019 while its president.

She used team money to pay her health care, air travel, vacation and property tax bills, while covering up her crime by generating false documents after parents confronted her about the missing money.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly A. Kelley asked the judge to impose an eight-month prison term, while Merrillville defense attorney Susan Severtson argued for Guska to be released on probation.

Both sides stated Guska had a challenging childhood and a painful motherhood experience that has left her still being treated for emotional disorders.

The prosecution states Guska has shown little respect for the law, having stolen, from her employers, in 2000 from Hemophilia Foundation of Illinois and in 2007 from a law firm.

Her defense team characterized Guska as a devoted mother fearful of the impact on her young children if she is imprisoned and better able to make restitution if freed on probation to continue working two jobs, as the sole support of her family.

The prosecution said Guska was one of a number of Cedar Lake residents who helped establish the Riptide softball organization three years ago.

Parents had to pay at least $1,200 to have their girls join the team to cover uniforms, equipment and tournament travel costs around the Midwest.

As the organization’s president, she took control of registration fees and donations and spent the money on herself.

She limited access to the organization’s board meetings and generated phony team budget documents and purchase invoices to conceal her fraudulent behavior.

The prosecution said the lack of accurate bookkeeping made it difficult to determine the full amount of money stolen that needs to be repaid.

Guska stated in her plea agreement last year the amount was more than $32,000, but now the two sides agreed Guska need only pay $29,490.

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