Feds seek 15-month prison term for former mayor

By The Associated Press

WHITING — Federal prosecutors are recommending a 15-month prison sentence for the former mayor of Whiting, who pleaded guilty to fraud and a tax crime.

The government and Joe Stahura's lawyer filed memos, weeks ahead of a Jan. 13 court hearing, The Northwest (Indiana) Times reported.

Stahura, 64, and his wife transferred about $255,000 from a campaign account to cover gambling losses, the government alleged. He pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

“Stahura’s conduct did nothing to change the perception that Lake County politicians are corrupt and self-serving, but rather only enhanced it, thereby making it more difficult for those many politicians who serve honestly to raise funds and be trusted by their constituency,” the government said in a court filing Monday.

Defense attorney Kerry Connor, noting Stahura's health problems and years of service to Whiting, is urging U.S. District Judge James Moody to decline to order a prison sentence.

“Joseph Stahura’s sincere regret, acceptance of responsibility for his actions, and his commitment to right the wrong he has committed go substantially beyond that contemplated by the guidelines,” Connor wrote Tuesday.

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