MERRILLVILLE | The lawyer for Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist is calling for further investigation over what he said are attempts to frame his client.
Attorney Scott King said Soderquist discovered an invoice charging a lumber purchase to the city account in the name of Soderquist Construction, a company that doesn’t exist, King said.
Soderquist found the invoice dated June 26, 2014, while preparing documents earlier this month for submission to the Lake Station Board of Works for payment, King said.
The invoice lists the mayor’s home street number but wrong street name as the address of the nonexistent construction company, and lists Soderquist’s City Hall office number, King said.
“The mayor does not and never has operated any construction business of any description and is unaware of any company by the name of Soderquist Construction,” King said.
King said the Lake Station city employee who bought the lumber didn’t notice the false information regarding the purchaser until he was questioned by Soderquist July 11. The employee bought the lumber at a Portage Menards store for repairs to a city-owned trailer for use in the Lake Station July Fourth festivities, King said.
The employee denied to Soderquist and to King’s office having anything to do with the inclusion of falsities on the invoice, King said.
King represents Soderquist and his wife, Deborah Soderquist, in a pending case filed in U.S. District Court alleging they improperly used money from the city’s food pantry and his re-election campaign at local casinos.
Both pleaded not guilty to a total 15 criminal charges spanning two corruption indictments.
The second indictment alleges the couple knew the mayor’s stepdaughter, Miranda Brakley, pocketed at least $5,000 from the Lake Station City Court and helped prevent apprehension.
The April indictments came after the fall 2013 execution of search warrants at Lake Station City Hall.
King said in the Tuesday release he hoped “a full investigation by the Porter County Police will uncover the scope of what was attempted here.”
“The federal government should investigate this matter with the same zeal they have pursued and continue to pursue my clients,” Scott said in the release.
Porter County Sheriff’s Department public information officer Sgt. Larry LaFlower said Tuesday the department has no involvement in the Soderquist case. Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said no reports have been filed in connection with the purchase from Menards, but if one is filed his department would investigate.
King said in the past several months his office had been made aware of other instances of false statements regarding Soderquist being made in public and in private, and believes that some can be traced to political rivals of the mayor.