city of Whiting

Former Whiting Mayor Pleads Guilty in Court Wednesday

Sep 9, 2020
whitingindiana.com

HAMMOND - Former Whiting Mayor Joseph Stahura admitted in court that he looted his campaign donations to gamble and for other personal uses over the last five years.

The "Times" reports Stahura appeared late Wednesday morning before a U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge to formally plead guilty to charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

The charges, which were filed last month, could land Stahura in prison.  They also end his long political career which includes decades of public service as a Whiting city councilman and mayor.

During his time as Whiting mayor, Stahura coordinated the revitalization of the city’s downtown retail district and lakeshore recreational area.

The 64-year old Whiting native told the court Wednesday he knew it was illegal to convert re-election campaign funds to his personal use, but did it repeatedly for five years, between 2014 and 2019.

Stahura also admitted to filing a false 2018 federal income tax return that didn’t account for the diverted money from his campaign account, as well as a false 2018 campaign finance disclosure report to the county that overstated his repayment of money he took from his campaign fund.

As part of the plea deal, Stahura agreed to waive his right to a jury trial. He also resigned last week as mayor as part of his deal with U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II  in exchange for Kirsch to recommend Stahura receive leniency.  Kirsch also is opting not to charge Stahura’s wife, Diane, with any involvement in misusing campaign money.

If U.S. District Court Judge James T. Moody accepts Stahura’s guilty plea and the plea deal, he will likely sentence Stahura in the first week of December.

UPDATE:  Stahura's attorney Kerry Connor said in a statement sent to Lakeshore Public Radio on Wednesday:

"The full story is that over the years Joe routinely made payments back to his political campaign account, and he returned the vast majority of funds to the account long before he had any inkling that he was being investigated. No city money was ever touched."

Lisa Beck for State Rep. Facebook page

Today:   An extended conversation with one of the new state legislators, State Rep. Lisa Beck (D-19), who joined her northwest Indiana colleagues for swearing-in and Organization Day at the Statehouse, in advance of the 2019 General Assembly session.   We also have another edition of "Green Fleet Radio," supported by South Shore Clean Cities.  Lauri Keagle is in once again for host Carl Lisek, with a conversation with John Scharingson, the Executive Director, Sales & Marketing at the Renewable Energy Group.

Indiana Public Media

Today:   Lorelei Weimer, the executive director of Indiana Dunes Tourism, joins us to talk about the concerted lobbying effort, both locally and in Washington, to get the Indiana  Dunes National Lakeshore elevated to National Park status.  She tells us the latest on that, as well as more about the new video series about the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore that is now on the Indiana Dunes Tourism YouTube channel.  The series is entitled "Dunes 101."

Calumet Artist Residency

Today:    Sam Love, the president of the Calumet Artist Residency, joins us to talk about the projects underway by the Gary-based group this summer:  their new campaign #publicart219  entitled "Gary Is," a poetry wall that comes from last year's Gary Poetry Project -- the Gary Nature Project that is being held in cooperation with the city  of Gary -- and a July 28th program that includes food, music and the Gary debut of "Ecopolis South Shore."   Sam explains in detail what that is.  It will be held at Progressive Community Church in the city's Emerson neighborhood.

NUVO Magazine, Indianapolis

Leigh Morris, a veteran northwest Indiana government and community official and Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura are in the studio along with Susan Duncan of the League of Women Voters Calumet Area, to talk about the grassroots campaign to encourage town and city councils across the state to get their legislators to support redistricting reform. 

So far, 25 city and town councils in the Region have signed onto to a resolution encouraging the General Assembly to change its method of creating boundaries for legislative districts.

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GasBuddy / GasBuddy.com

NORTHWEST INDIANA - Average retail gasoline prices in Northwest Indiana have risen just over five cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.51/g Sunday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 314 gas outlets in Northwest Indiana. This compares with the national average that has increased almost 3 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.54/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy says the price up-tick is pretty typical for this time of year.

city of Whiting website

Today:   it's Reporters Roundtable Thursday, where we talk with members of the northwest Indiana media about the stories they produced for their print and online readers.  On the program today -- "Times of Northwest Indiana" Statehouse reporter Dan Carden, business reporter Joseph Pete, Lake County government reporter Bill Dolan and "Times" community reporter Ed Bierschenk, who covers stories in Gary, Hammond and -- this week, the latest on the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting.

Mehr News Agency

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city of Whiting website

Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura came on "Regionally Speaking" on Monday to talk about his City Council's review of a move to establish fees for solid waste and recycling collection at homes, multi-unit housing and businesses... as well as higher water and sewer fees. The City Council is planning public hearings on the requests in mid-July. 

Stahura says Whiting may be the last city, or one of the last Indiana cities to offer free trash and recycling collection to its residents and businesses.

GNIAR

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Beth Mosher of the Chicagoland AAA will bring us the Independence Day travel forecast -- on the highways, on the rails and in the skies.  She says more Americans than ever are expected to travel during the July 4th holiday.

Wikipedia

Today:  a conversation by "Living On Earth" host Steve Curwood with environmental journalist Dan Egan, on his new book that looks at the death -- and life -- of the Great Lakes.

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