Former Indiana mayor contends judge fell asleep during trial

(File Photo)

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — A former northwestern Indiana mayor and his wife who were convicted of wire fraud and other charges for improperly using funds from his campaign and a food pantry have filed a motion seeking a retrial because they say a federal judge fell asleep at times during their trial.

Keith Soderquist, who was the mayor of Lake Station, and his wife, Deborah Soderquist, were convicted Sept. 11 of conspiracy, seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of filing false income tax returns.

In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys Scott King and Lakeisha Murdaugh said U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano was observed to have been asleep on “a number of occasions during the trial,” and that this prejudiced their right to a fair trial.

A message seeking comment was left for Lozano at his office Wednesday by The Associated Press. The U.S. Attorney’s Office had no comment, spokesman Ryan Holmes said.

The motion states that the Soderquists’ attorneys noted on two occasions during the trial that Lozano appeared to be asleep while evidence was being presented. In a motion for a change of judge, the attorneys said Lozano stated he was not asleep.

They also filed a motion to have video security surveillance evidence of the courtroom preserved to see if it shows Lozano sleeping during the trial. They also ask for a change of judge, saying Lozano’s “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Federal attorneys argued during the trial that the Soderquists used money from his campaign election fund and the city’s food pantry to pay for more than 50 gambling trips from 2010 to 2012 to a casino in Michigan.

The Soderquists still have another case pending before Lozano. Deborah Soderquist’s daughter, Miranda Brakley, is charged with stealing money from the city when she worked there as a court clerk, and the Soderquists are accused of helping her hide the crime. All three have pleaded not guilty.

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