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Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura

Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura.

City of Whiting

Northwest Indiana Mayor To Plead Guilty To Wire And Tax Fraud Charges

A Northwest Indiana mayor has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud and filing a false income tax return, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

Whiting Mayor Joseph Stahura, 64, has entered into a plea agreement indicating his intent to plead guilty to both charges, U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II said.

Stahura, mayor since 2004, illegally used about $255,000 of campaign funds for personal spending such as gambling, credit card debt and providing financial support to an adult daughter for more than five years, Kirsch said.

Kirsch released a statement saying Stahura “illegally used his campaign funds for personal activities and expenditures and lied about it on his publically [sic] filed campaign reports and tax returns. He knew his conduct was illegal, yet he persisted in it for over 5 years.”

In a statement on Whiting’s website, Stahura acknowledged the plea deal and said he will resign “in the coming days.”

“All I can say at this time is that I used some funds from my campaign account for personal use,” Stahura said in the statement, adding that he “routinely paid it back.”

He said the plea agreement “is in the best interest of my family and the citizens of Whiting.”

Stahura’s wife, Diane, also 64, has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in which she admits the government has enough evidence to charge her with wire fraud, Kirsch said.

Stahura has served five terms as mayor, and prior to that he was a five-term City Council member.

If the plea agreement is accepted by the court, the length of sentence and amount of restitution will be determined by the court, Kirsch said.

The Associated Press contributed.

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