Former Merrillville Town Councilman Indicted For Bribery
In Connection With The Town’s Towing Contract
HAMMOND – The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, Thomas L. Kirsch II, announced that Hammond Grand Jury returned an indictment against Thomas Goralczyk, age 51, of Merrillville, Indiana on a federal bribery charge.
The indictment alleges from February 2013 to February 2014 Goralczyk, while a Merrillville Town Councilman, did knowingly and corruptly solicit, demand, accept and agree to accept bribes from Individual A in exchange for a towing contract between the Town of Merrillville and Individual A’s company. Goralczyk accepted the following: a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a 2008 Ford Focus, 4 camper tires and free storage for his personal motorcycle, from Individual A, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with a transactions or series of transactions of the Town of Merrillville.
Also filed today with the Indictment, was a plea agreement in which Goralczyk will be pleading guilty to the charge contained in Indictment. The plea agreement signed by Goralczyk states that Goralczyk was first elected as a Merrillville Town Councilman in 2007 and took office in January 2008. He was re-elected in 2011 and began his 2nd term as 4th ward councilman in January of 2012. He served as President of the Town Council in 2011 and 2015. Goralczyk also held various other positions on the Merrillville Redevelopment Commission, Lake County Solid Waste Management Board and the governing board of NIRPC (Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission). As alleged in the indictment, Goralczyk identified that he accepted bribe payments from a Federal Bureau of Investigation “cooperating individual” in the form of two vehicles. He obtained a Jeep Grand Cherokee for $400 when he knew the value was in excess of $2500. In an attempt to cover up the bribe, he presented a false bill of sale to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles representing that he paid $1000 for the vehicle. In addition, Goralczyk accepted a 2008 Ford Focus with a value in excess of $5000. He paid nothing for this vehicle, but presented a false bill of sale to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles indicating that he paid $2750 for the vehicle. Goralczyk acknowledged that he accepted both the vehicles for his own personal gain, in exchange for his promise to engage in official conduct by using his influence and power as a Merrillville Town Councilman to obtain a Town of Merrillville towing contract for the FBI “cooperating individual’s” towing company. A date for the plea hearing has not yet been set.
United States Attorney Kirsch said, “Public officials, like Mr. Goralczyk, elected and entrusted to do the public’s work, are required to do that work free from self-dealing and graft. This is not optional. The public demands and is, in fact, entitled to honest public servants. Mr. Goralczyk violated this trust for the purpose of enriching himself. This will not be tolerated at any level of government. Public corruption must be routed out where it exists. If you are in the community and are aware of an elected or appointed official engaging in illegal conduct, I encourage you to notify the FBI or US Attorney’s Office.”
The United States Attorney’s office emphasizes that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons are presumed innocent until, and unless proven guilty in court.
If convicted, 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 results from an investigation by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Philip C. Benson.
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