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PORTAGE — Mayor James Snyder has named an Indianapolis attorney to take over as lead attorney in his defense in his federal corruption case.

Jackie M. Bennett Jr., of Taft Stettinius & Hollister, will replace Thomas L. Kirsch II as Snyder's new attorney, according to documents filed in federal court. Kirsch was confirmed last week as the next U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.

Snyder, a Republican in his second term, was indicted in November 2016 on charges of bribery, extortion and tax evasion. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial, which is set to begin in Hammond district court on Jan. 29.

According to Bennett's biography on the Taft Stettinius & Hollister website, Bennett represents individuals and corporations in cases expected to go to trial.

"His practice concentrates in the areas of commercial, civil and white-collar criminal litigation, as well as regulatory investigations by state and federal agencies. Jackie has experience and expertise in matters involving internal corporate investigations, corporate governance, securities regulation, foreign corrupt practices, patent infringement, environmental crimes and an array of contract and business tort actions," according to the website.

Prior to entering private practice in Indianapolis, Bennett was a federal prosecutor for 14 years. He served in the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr from 1995 to 1999, the last two years as the principal deputy in charge of the OIC’s Washington, D.C., operations, supervising day-to-day operations, according to the website.

He served as senior advisor to Starr on investigative and prosecutorial aspects of several matters, including the impeachment referral of former U.S. President Bill Clinton. In that regard, he was one of three prosecutors selected by Starr to conduct the grand jury questioning of Clinton. Bennett also played a principal role in several trials during the Arkansas phase of the Whitewater investigation, including the 1996 fraud and conspiracy trial resulting in the convictions of Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and former Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan owners Jim and Susan McDougal, according to the website.

Requests for comment from Snyder and Bennett were not immediately returned Friday morning.


Porter County reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for more than 38 years, including 23 years with The Times. She covers municipal and school government in Valparaiso and Portage.