Former Deputy Chief of Lake County Sheriff’s Department Indicted For Making False Statements
PRESS RELEASE: US Attorney's Office Northern District of Indiana
HAMMOND – Daniel Murchek, 57, of Schererville, Indiana was indicted for making false statements to federal authorities, announced U.S. Attorney Kirsch.
United States Attorney Kirsch said, “Mr. Murchek lied to FBI agents who sought truthful information from him in connection with what was then an ongoing public corruption investigation of which he was aware. Mr. Murchek did so purely to protect his self-interest and conceal his criminal conduct from the FBI. Mr. Murchek was a police officer, sworn to uphold the law, at the time he told the lies, making his conduct particularly egregious.”
“Public corruption is a priority of my Office. Along with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate and prosecute public corruption across the Northern District of Indiana. Citizens demand, and in fact deserve, honest public service from their elected and appointed officials. I encourage anyone with information about possible corruption in their town or city to report it to me or to the FBI.”
According to documents in this case, at all times relevant to the indictment, the FBI was investigating public officials and towing businesses for bribery activity, among other things. Also, at times relevant to indictment, Murchek was a candidate for Lake County Sheriff in the 2018 sheriff’s election.
On November 10, 2016, federal agents executed search warrants at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and at the home of John Buncich, who then was the elected Lake County Sheriff. On November 14, 2016, Murchek was interviewed by the FBI about Lake County towing contracts and donations made to Murchek’s campaign for Lake County Sheriff by specific firms towing for Lake County Sheriff’s Department. At the time of the interview, Murchek was Deputy Chief of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, a position that he had held since 2011. During this interview, agents specifically asked Murchek about contributions from Person A and whether any of those contributions were structured to avoid Indiana campaign finance laws. During this interview, Murchek denied he had received a structured campaign donation through Person A. Indiana finance law prohibited persons from knowingly accepting a political contribution made by one person in the name of another, commonly known as a structured campaign contribution. Indiana finance law also prohibited corporate political contributions to candidates seeking local offices in excess of $2,000 during a 1-year period.
In fact, during the investigation, Person A recorded conversations with Murchek and others. During these recorded conversations, Murchek explained how to structure campaign contributions to avoid Indiana campaign finance laws. Specifically, Murchek explained that an individual could structure campaign donations by giving money to another person who could then write a check to the campaign committee to conceal from whom the donation actually was made. On September 23, 2016, Person A met with Murchek for the purpose of donating money to Murchek’s campaign. Person A explained to Murchek that Person A gave $500 to one of his employees, and the employee then wrote a check for $500 to Murchek’s campaign, which check Person A provided to Murchek on that date. Person A specifically told Murchek that the contribution was actually from Person A and not from whom the check was written. Person A further told Murchek that Person A structured the donation as Murchek directed to avoid Indiana campaign finance laws and to “stay under the radar.”Murchek stated in part that he was “all good with that.” During these conversations, Murchek also indicated that he would reduce the number of companies on the sheriff’s approved tow list, which action was intended, at least in part, to benefit Person A.
Along with this Indictment, a plea agreement relating to making the aforementioned false statements has been filed. Murchek’s initial court appearance has been scheduled for today at 9:45AM before U.S. Magistrate Judge John E. Martin. A date for the plea hearing is not yet scheduled.
The United States Attorney's Office emphasized that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty in court.
If convicted in court, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
This case was being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; and the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. This case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip C. Benson.