Former Merrillville Town Councilman Sentenced To 15 Months In Prison For Bribery
In Connection With The Town’s Towing Contract
HAMMOND –Thomas Goralczyk, age 51, of Merrillville, Indiana was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen on his plea of guilty to a federal bribery charge, announced U.S. Attorney Kirsch.
Goralczyk was sentenced to 15 months in prison with the court acknowledging that he had already forfeited $7500 to the United States.
“Public corruption will not be tolerated at any level,” said U.S. Attorney Kirsch. “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. Today’s sentence sends a strong message of deterrence to others that want to engage in these activities. My office, together with our law enforcement partners, will continue to pursue matters involving corrupt public officials. I encourage anyone with information concerning corrupt public officials to contact my office or the FBI.”
According to documents in this case, 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.
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). Goralczyk admitted 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.
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.