Tag Archives: Criminal law

Griffith Police Arrest Subject, Credit Vigilant Citizens for Helping

19 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

Gazette Staff

At approximately 12:15 pm on December 16, 2013, the Griffith Police were notified by a resident that a subject in a green compact car had approached her residence and rang her doorbell continuously. The resident, having just exited the shower, did not immediately answer the door and instead yelled to the subject that she would come to the door shortly. After making this statement, the subject quickly returned to the green car and left the area.

Griffith Sergeant Todd Dawes responded to the area of the complainant’s home and, in the area of the 900 block of Wheeler, located a green compact car parked in a driveway, running and occupied by two men. Sergeant Dawes made contact with the two men who advised that they were present at the residence to visit a friend. Despite their claims, Sergeant Dawes noted that the men appeared to be nervous and that their car had a large screen TV, a gaming system and a jewelry box in the back seat. Additional officers were summoned to the scene and the two men, identified as David Woods (19 YOA) of Gary and Shane Parks (19 YOA) of Chesterton, were detained. Further investigation at the scene revealed that forced entry had been made to the home and that a burglary had taken place. A subsequent warranted search of the vehicle resulted in the recovery of all property taken from the Griffith residence as well as additional property that will likely be associated with other burglaries that have occurred recently in neighboring towns.

Both Woods and Parks provided statements to Detective Schoon regarding their involvement in this burglary.

On December 18, 2013, the Office of the Lake County Prosecutor charged David Woods and Shane Parks with Class B Felonies for Burglary. If convicted, Woods and Parks face 6 to 20 years in prison.

Chief Mance stated that, “Arrest like this show that the citizens of Griffith and the Griffith Police Department are working in unison to send a strong message that crime will not be tolerated in our community.”

Schererville Daytime Burglary Results in Two Arrests

13 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Schererville police have confirmed that there was a burglary at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the 500 block of Gard Lane.  Police reported that they were called to the scene and found footprints in the snow.  The footprints were tracked to Govert Drive where the two suspects were found.  One fled on foot and was later apprehended in the 700 block of New Castle Drive.   A 16 year old juvenile and an 18 year old adult were arrested and transported to the Lake County Jail.  Charges are pending.

A citizen has reported to the Gazette that the door to the home was kicked in which resulted in the burglary call.  The Gazette is attempting to verify this report but has been unable to do so thus far.  We will update this article as information becomes available.

Man Charged in Death of One Week Old Child May be Morton Grad

11 Dec

by Ken Davidson

The Gazette received a tip that a 23 year old Michigan man charged with murdering his one week old child is a Hessville native. According to The News-Herald of Michigan, Luis Marco Smolen was charged with First Degree Felony Murder in Taylor, Michigan earlier this week. The charges stem from a call to emergency personnel reporting that the child was not breathing on December 7. The police immediately believed foul play was involved according to the News-Herald. Under Michigan law Smolen faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

A search for Luis Smolen in Hammond, Indiana reveals a birth record in 2009, presumably for another child, and a mention on the Scott Middle School honor roll in 2005 for an 8th grade student. The Gazette has not yet positively confirmed that this Luis Smolen is the individual who graduated from Morton High School. We continue to follow this story and welcome any information from our readers.

Surprise, Van Til Now Admits Guilt

2 Dec George Van Til statement proclaiming his innocence.

by Ken Davidson

“The truth is irrelevant to him.”  That is a quote which the Times of Northwest Indiana attributed to George Van Til while he was lying to all of us about stealing from us.    Of course, Van Til was referring to his challenger and not to himself.  Today he finally admitted that he is a thief and a liar.  The only surprise was the timing of the announcement.  The only question that remains to me is whether or not he will part with some of his purported information in order to save his own skin.  No matter what happens, Van Til is not likely to spend significant time in prison.  Although his conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, it appears that he may do as little as ten months behind bars.

Van Til will officially enter a plea to Six Counts of Wire Fraud.  That is six counts of stealing from the people of Lake County, Indiana.  In short, Van Til will admit that he used employees who were being paid by the taxpayers for his personal campaign.  The Plea Agreement, signed by Van Til states:

I did knowingly and intentionally request and direct some employees of the Lake
County Surveyor’s Office to engage in political campaign work while they were
being paid with Lake County governmental funds. Furthermore, I knew that while
doing this campaign work at the Lake County Surveyor’s Office, these employees
were using Lake County property and equipment to engage in political activity.

The maximum penalty that can be imposed is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Van Til is not expected to receive anywhere near that amount of time.  The agreement  calls for the Assistant United States Attorney involved to argue for the minimum sentence under federal guidelines.  The Sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 10-24 months*.   Thus, Van Til is likely to receive a ten month sentence pursuant to the plea agreement.   The agreement specifically allows for Van Til to ask for home detention or some other means.  The Agreement makes clear the Government will oppose any such request:

Although the defendant is free to argue that the sentence imposed (guideline or non-guideline) be satisfied by any means available under the sentencing guidelines, or 18 USC 3553, under no circumstances will the government make any recommendation for a term of probation, home detention, or community confinement and will oppose any request for a non-guideline and non-incarceration sentence.

The major difference in the 24 month sentence and the ten months he is likely to receive, involves the reduction in sentence for “acceptance of responsibility.”  The difference between a plea and a trial in this matter is about 41 months because the Obstruction of Justice charge is a level 14 base offense under Guidelines.  As stated below, the wire fraud charge is a level 7 base offense.

Van Til becomes the 84th Lake County democrat to plead guilty to federal charges.  None has ever been charged or convicted by Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter.

*Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Wire Fraud:

Base Offense Level:   7 (0-6 mo sentence)

Enhancements in this case:  8 points

Credits in this case: 2 points

Total Points for sentencing:   13, guideline sentence:  12-18 months

The Plea Agreement calls for an additional one point reduction in sentencing provided Van Til cooperates with Government officials.  That would reduce the sentence from 12 months to 10 months.

 

 

 

Carlson arrested for 2012 shooting

22 Nov

Matthew Carlson, (25) of Kewanna, IN, was arrested on warrant at his residence Wednesday night by Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputies and Indiana Conservation Officers. The arrest warrant includes one C-felony count of Reckless Homicide, one C-felony count of Criminal Recklessness, and one D-felony count of Criminal Recklessness. The charges stem from the shooting death of Kenneth Moore, (28) of Rochester, IN. Conservation Officers say the incident occurred on September 30, 2012 while the men were hunting on private property near Rochester.

State Police, Marion Prosecutor Confirm Restaurant Raids Throughout State

20 Nov

by Ken Davidson

Officials are now confirming that the Indiana State Police assisted in an investigation that involved the shuttering of several restaurants throughout the State. Captain David Bursten of the Indiana State Police would only confirm that they received a request for assistance in the execution of search warrants from the Marion County Prosecutor. Those search warrants were all served on Monday. He did not have details on specific locations that were searched, but did say that multiple counties were involved. Thus, there is no official corroboration that La Carretta was a target of these search warrants.

Peg McLeish of the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office says the investigation was conducted with the assistance of the her office, Tippecanoe County Prosecutor and the Indiana State Police. When asked if the restaurants would re-open, she refused to speculate. She stated there is currently no court order preventing any restaurant from re-opening.

This is a breaking story and we will continue to update you as details become available. If you or a family member works for one of the closed restaurants, we would love to hear from you. Write to the Gazette at ken@northwestindianagazette.com or use the submit a tip button above.

UPDATE: The Gazette has spoken with the manager of at least one restaurant that was closed on Monday by the Indiana State Police. El Rodeo mexican restaurant in Richmond, Indiana will open as usual at 11:00 am today. When asked if they were closed on Monday, the employee stated “yes, for a little while.” He stated that he “did not know anything about it” when asked for further details.

This is a continuing story, we will keep you posted. See the update here Margaritas Flow Again at La Carreta

la caretta closed

A sign on the door indicates that La Caretta is closed

Lowell Police Seek Public Help in Burglary Case

7 Nov

Gazette Staff

On Friday, November 1st, 2013, the Lowell Police Department was dispatched to the scene of a burglary at a residence in the 500 block of N. Nichols Street. The burglary is believed to have been committed at approximately 12:30 p.m. A witness stated he observed a white male with a thin build wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans acting suspiciously in the area. The suspicious male is described as being in his late teens or early twenties. Forced entry was made through the residence’s front door and a firearm and jewelry were reported to have been taken.

This burglary does not appear to be related to the burglaries reported October 21st and 22nd. A suspect has been identified in at least one of these burglaries and numerous charges related to it are expected to be filed at the conclusion of our investigation.

We are asking anyone with information regarding any of these burglaries to contact Detective David Lee or Assistant Chief James Woestman at (219) 696-0411. Anyone observing suspicious persons or vehicles are asked to report them immediately.

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