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Attorney: Minor scam tried to set up Lake Station mayor

Lake StatiMayor Keith Soderquist

Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist

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Updated: August 31, 2014 6:38AM



LAKE STATION — Mayor Keith Soderquist’s attorney says someone tried to make it appear that his client, who’s under federal indictment for allegedly stealing public funds, made a private purchase recently at a retail store using city funds.

Scott King said Tuesday that Soderquist was preparing payable invoices for the first city council meeting of July when he noticed a $70 invoice for lumber from the Portage Menards store, with which the city has an account.

The invoice used the city account number, but instead of listing the city as the purchaser, it listed “Soderquist Construction,” with the mayor’s home address and phone number, although the street name was incorrect, according to King, who said Soderquist has never been in the construction business.

The mayor called city employee James Moss, who made the purchase and said he didn’t pay attention to the receipt when he took it from the store clerk, King said. Police Chief Kevin Garber also questioned Moss before contacting Porter County sheriff’s police to investigate the incident.

Menards identified the clerk who handled the sale, now the main suspect, King said, adding that he’s not convinced the man acted alone.

“This is more than just a misguided sense of humor,” he said. “Whoever did this really went out of their way to make it look like the mayor used the public account for private gain, and I hope the federal government looks into this as vigorously as they are my client.”

Soderquist didn’t return a call Tuesday for comment.

Whoever’s responsible for the receipt could face charges of forgery, harassment and theft, King said, as well as a lawsuit by Soderquist.

Soderquist and his wife, Deborah, are charged with stealing money from the Lake Station Food Pantry — which receives money from city and state tax dollars as well as donations — and the mayor’s campaign fund for their personal use, including dozens of trips to Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, from 2010 to 2012.

A second federal indictment accuses Soderquist’s stepdaughter, Miranda Brakley, 33, a former city court clerk, of stealing at least $5,000 in bond money from city court from August 2011 to July 2012 and hiding $7,000 in income from her bankruptcy case, which she filed in August 2012. The Soderquists are also charged with helping Brakley hide the thefts and violate federal banking law.



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