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Mayor James Snydeer

Portage Mayor James Snyder, center right, arriving in U.S. District Court in Hammond for the first day of his trial in mid-January.

PORTAGE — The mayor opted against speaking to a federal jury about public corruption charges against him, but he is scheduled to talk next week to the Portage Chamber of Commerce.

Portage Mayor James E. Snyder, who was awaiting a verdict Tuesday on bribery and tax evasion charges, was announced the same day as the featured speaker for the chamber's annual State of the City luncheon.

It wasn't clear earlier Tuesday whether Snyder will still be the mayor by the time of the chamber's Feb. 21 event.

Federal prosecutors and Snyder's defense team were scheduled Tuesday to give final arguments to a U.S. District Court jury in Hammond and let jurors deliberate over 16 days of testimony about whether Snyder is guilty of soliciting and accepting bribes for city business or illegally dodging federal taxes.

Snyder is pleading not guilty.

He would automatically be removed from office, under state law, if found guilty of any of the felony counts he faces.

The luncheon is scheduled to begin noon at Woodland Park, 2100 Willowcreek Road. The announcement states, "The February Chamber Luncheon will feature Mayor Snyder as he gives the State of the City report. ... Join us to learn about the accomplishments from 2018 and the plans for 2019."

Federal prosecutors have portrayed Snyder as a schemer who is guilty of hiding income from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to avoid paying personal and business taxes and funneling more than $1 million in city contracts to local businesses in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in bribes.

Snyder's lawyers have responded that the government's case is built on false evidence and an investigation prompted by Snyder's vengeful political opponents.

Snyder has chosen not to run for re-election this year.

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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.