At least 15-year sentence sought for ex-Indiana sheriff

Buncich has pleaded not guilty of accepting bribes and is awaiting trial (Image from: Lake County Democrats)

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are asking that the former sheriff of Indiana's second most-populous county be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from towing businesses.

John Buncich was removed from office as Lake County sheriff after a jury convicted him in August of bribery and wire fraud charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Benson asks in a court filing that Buncich be taken into custody immediately after his Jan. 16 sentencing hearing.

Benson argues Buncich's conduct was "a calculated abuse of power over a prolonged period of time for personal enrichment."

Defense attorney Bryan Truitt didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Buncich is a Democrat who was elected in 2015 to his fourth term as sheriff. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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