ISP Investigation of KCSD Looks at Gaps in Recordings

“This will be ugly. It’ll be real ugly …” were the recorded words of Kosciusko County Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine concerning the issues between the sheriff’s department and Warsaw Police Department, according to the affidavit for a search warrant compiled by the Indiana State Police.
On Wednesday, Kosciusko County Clerk’s Office released documents detailing a search warrant issued by Indiana State Police. Today, more information from the warrant has surfaced concerning the indictment of Rovenstine, Grace College professor Mark Soto and convict Kevin Bronson.
According to the affidavit for search warrant compiled by ISP officer Neil E. Hodges, WPD discovered an inappropriate relationship in the early months of 2015 between Rovenstine, Soto and Bronson. The following information was presented to the Kosciusko County grand jury Feb. 23, which resulted in the 10 indictment charges of Rovenstine.
Two requests to stop allowing Bronson to have unmonitored and unrecorded conversations were given March 20 and July 2 by WPD Chief Scott Whitaker. Rovenstine indicated to Whitaker and detective Paul Heaton that he would comply.
The July request happened at the KCSD. After Whitaker had left that meeting, Rovenstine said to Heaton, “It almost sounded to me like Scott (Whitaker) was almost inferring I’m dirty.” This conversation was recorded by Heaton. Rovenstine continued and said that because Heaton was a drug investigator, that Rovenstine could make it look like Heaton was a crook as he worked with convicted felons as informants.
The unrecorded contact between Soto and Bronson continued within the jail, according to the affidavit. On Aug. 4, Whitaker entered the jail and took a photograph of one of these unmonitored conversations. After this point, Heaton was denied entry to the jail.
On Aug. 14, Heaton confronted Rovenstine about being denied entry and recorded Rovenstine’s reply. According to the warrant affidavit, Rovenstine is recorded as saying, “Paul, listen, I don’t wanna start World War III because everybody’s gonna lose. I guarantee ya, you think you hold everything, you don’t. This will be ugly. It’ll be real ugly so I wanna cooperate, I don’t want any trouble, I really don’t.”
Heaton asked what would get ugly and what Rovenstine was insinuating. Rovenstine responded, “Let me assure you … we can investigate things. I am a police officer, I am the sheriff, I have investigators, too” and “I’m not insinuating anything, I’m stating a fact.”
By the middle of September, ISP learned that KCSD was investigating allegations that Heaton had sexual relations with two female confidential informants. On Oct. 1, ISP Detective Chad Sherwood spoke on the phone with a man whose son was dating one of the confidential informants and who had been recently visited by KCSD detectives Mike Speigle and Matt Rapp. The man said the detectives told him they thought something inappropriate was going on.
At one point the man asked Speigle why he was doing it and Speigle stated, “I’m just doing what I was told to do,” according to the affidavit. The man also said he finally got to the point where he told the detectives he wanted to call a judge and “get this thing over with.”
“Look, I don’t know what’s going on between the sheriff’s department and the city police but I’m ready to call one of the judges, have all of you put in one big room, have all of you drop your pants, see who’s got the biggest d*** and get this thing over with,” the man told Sherwood, according to the affidavit. He also said Speigle about “tore his pants off” getting his phone out of his pocket so he could “get that off of his recorder.”
Sherwood spoke on Oct. 14 with Speigle, who said he had digitally recorded several interviews but didn’t know why he had failed to record that interview, and that the man thought he was recording the conversation because Speigle pulled out his phone to look at the time.
The same day, Sherwood spoke with KCSD Detective Chad Rager and asked if he had been ordered or asked by anyone to investigate Heaton. Rager said no one had asked or ordered him to do that, then said the ISP should be looking into someone like that, meaning Heaton.
“I’m not gonna say that he’s done anything criminal, but for me, he doesn’t live up to my standards of a man, or what a man should” be or do, Rager told Sherwood, according to the affidavit. Rager also said the reason his department is “even in this situation is because of Paul Heaton and the city. They brought us into this by coming into my, to this office and basically investigating my boss … You come in here and treat my boss like s*** I’m gonna get p****d, you know, he’s my friend …. (When) they come in and do that, and secretly record conversations between that are held between officers (it) p****s me off and it should.”
ISP learned that KCSD detectives had interviewed one of the alleged informants. During the second of two polygraph tests in Elkhart County, the informant failed, indicating that she was not truthful in describing a sexual relationship with Heaton. She stated that she came to KCSD with complaints regarding Heaton and her drug charges and they “came at me with the sexual stuff” and “still I denied it.” She indicated that she did not tell KCSD that she had sex with Heaton until she was brought in and interviewed Nov. 12 by KCSD detective JD Ayres.
ISP investigators also learned that the other informant allegedly told someone that she was questioned by police during her latest incarceration and that they “tried to break her hard,” and that she was interviewed almost every day regarding Heaton. Ayres stated that he “listened to those interviews … and they didn’t grill her … If she thinks that’s a grillin’, she ain’t been grilled yet,” the affidavit states.
Hodges spoke with Kosciusko County IT Systems Administrator Bob Momeyer March 1. He stated that files of the interview of the first informant was missing roughly 2-1/2 minutes of recordings.
Not only was that file missing, but the digital recorder in both the large and small interview rooms did not contain interviews from Oct. 8 to Dec. 8. Momeyer believed that the deleted data could be recovered. The missing information formed evidence for the official misconduct, intimidation and obstruction of justice charges.
This 500 GB recording system was part of the evidence taken by ISP with the search warrant, as well as multiple department cellphones and computers. Hodges says in the affidavit he believes KCSD has shown a pattern of deleting or not including information inconsistent with the narrative they are trying to prove, and that the recording system contains additional interviews with the second informant.