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Time served, poor health argued for Buncich release
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Time served, poor health argued for Buncich release

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John Buncich

Former Sheriff John Buncich and a photograph of money a confidential government informant paid Buncich.

HAMMOND — Former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich has suffered enough, his defense attorney claims.

Kerry C. Connor, who won a reduction in Buncich’s convictions last year, now argues in a new 17-page court memorandum Buncich should be released from federal prison after having served 30 months for bribery and fraud.

She is making her argument to U.S. District Court Judge James T. Moody, who has scheduled an Aug. 5 resentencing hearing for the man who previously was Lake County’s highest elected law enforcement officer.

Former U.S. Attorney David Capp charged Buncich in 2016 with soliciting bribes from towing firms doing business with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.

The following year, a federal court jury convicted Buncich of six felony counts of bribery and wire fraud on evidence that included hours of video and audio recordings and testimony of how the former sheriff’s political fundraising had become a solicitation of bribery to towing firms working for county police.

Moody imposed a 188-month sentence Jan. 16, 2018, on the 74-year-old Buncich, who is currently housed in a U.S. Bureau of Prison medical center in Springfield, Missouri and is not scheduled for release for another 11 years.

Buncich appealed his conviction to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, arguing the convictions were tainted by inadmissible evidence.

That three-judge panel agreed to overturn three of Buncich’s guilty verdicts in 2019, but left the remaining three convictions stand.

Connor states in the new court document that Buncich’s sentence exceeded the average for bribery cases.

She also argues Buncich now has become ill and will likely die in prison if his sentence isn’t reduced.

Connor argues according to the United States Sentencing Commission, the average sentence nationwide for a bribery offense in was 25 months.

She claims Buncich is on at least eight medications for several conditions, including heart disease and high blood pressure, and has severe back problems, according to his prison medical records.

“When John went into federal custody on Jan. 16, 2018, he was a robust 320 pounds. Today, John Buncich appears frail and gaunt at 205 pounds,” she adds.

He underwent spinal surgery in January.

Connor said the COVID-19 pandemic makes his plight all the more dangerous.

She said more than 4,200 federal inmates and 380 staffers have tested positive for the infectious virus and 101 have died from it.

Connor’s portrait of Buncich is in sharp contrast to the memorandum federal prosecutors issued last week.

They argue he represents a culture of public corruption in Lake County and must stay in prison as an example to others.

Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

 

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