Bribery, Other Charges Filed Against Sheriff Rovenstine

A grand jury recently convened in Kosciusko County and indicted three people, including Kosciusko County Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine.
The 10 counts against Rovenstine include a level C felony count of bribery; two counts of level 5 felony bribery; intimidation, a level 6 felony; assisting a criminal, a level 6 felony; and five counts of official misconduct, one a D felony and four level 6 felonies.
Also indicted were Grace College professor Mark H. Soto and Kevin L. Bronson, the former owner of a martial arts business in Warsaw. The six counts against Soto include three charges of corrupt business influence, class C and Level 5 felonies; and three counts of intimidation, class D felonies. The 10 counts against Bronson are three charges of corrupt business influence, class C and Level 5 felonies; intimidation, a class D and level 6 felony; three charges of intimidation, class D felonies; intimidation, a level 5 felony; intimidation, a class D felony; and intimidation, a class D and level 6 felony.
The orders to issue arrest warrants for Rovenstine, Soto and Bronson were filed this morning. Bail for Rovenstine and Soto were fixed at $10,000 surety each and Bronson’s at $50,000.
“The Kosciusko County Sheriffs Department stands behind Aaron as he faces these legal proceedings,” Capt. Rocky Goshert said this morning. “Those of us who know something of Aaron’s character know that he will be vindicated in the end. Meanwhile, the citizens of Kosciusko County can be assured these proceedings will not affect the operation of our department. We will continue to provide the quality, professional law enforcement services that have earned respect throughout our county and the state of Indiana.”
The Indiana State Police, Bremen District, scheduled a press conference this afternoon regarding the indictments. More details of the indictment were to be announced at the press conference at 3 p.m. at the Marshall County Administration Building, 2nd Floor Commissioners Room, 112 W. Jefferson St., Plymouth.
Marshall County Prosecutor E. Nelson Chipman Jr. was appointed as the special prosecutor in the case that was investigated by the ISP.
The affidavit on Rovenstine states that he “did knowingly agree to accept property from Kevin Bronson” of $10,000 either before or after Rovenstine was elected with the intent to control the performance of acts related to his employment or function as a public servant. It alleges Rovenstine was going to permit special privileges to Bronson, an inmate at the county jail, and to Soto, a visitor to the jail, in violation of the KCSD policies and Indiana law.
The affidavit alleges Rovenstine was going to permit unrecorded telephone calls and unsupervised visits between Bronson and Soto.
A second bribe of $10,000 occurred between July 2014 and July 2015, the indictment states.
Between July 20 and Aug. 10, 2015, Rovenstine, allegedly, agreed to accept $20,000 from Bronson to permit unrecorded telephone calls and unsupervised visitations between Bronson and Soto after Rovenstine was elected, according to the third bribery charge.
The intimidation charge states that Rovenstine “did knowingly communicate a threat to Paul Heaton, a law enforcement officer, with the intent that Paul Heaton be placed in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act.” Heaton initiated a criminal investigation of Bronson’s conduct while Bronson was in the county jail.
The charge of assisting a criminal alleges Rovenstine, after being informed around March 20, 2015, that Bronson and Soto were the subject of a criminal investigation, assisted Bronson and Soto by authorizing unrecorded phone calls and unsupervised visits between Bronson and Soto, with the intent to hinder Bronson’s punishment.
The charges of official misconduct against Rovenstine are for allegedly committing bribery, assisting a criminal and intimidating an official in performance of his duties as a public servant.
The affidavit on Soto states that Bronson and Soto knowingly received money from individuals that was derived from a pattern of racketeering activity. The proceeds were used by Soto and Bronson to operate Young Dragon Enterprises LLC.
Bronson and Soto threatened David Baker to get him to provide extensive legal services and prepare documents aimed at securing a movie contract and/or book, without payment. Baker was in fear of retaliation for declining to provide the legal services and documents. Baker was threatened with beatings or the killing of him and his family members, the affidavit states.
Bronson and Soto also threatened Nate McLaurin for previously asking for contact information of Bronson’s superior in the Aryan Brotherhood. He and his family had to move from their home in the middle of the night for their own safety, according to the affidavit.
Bronson and Soto also allegedly threatened McLaurin with the intent to secure payments from Tyler Silveus to Bronson and Young Dragon Enterprises LLC totaling $84,012.50.
Bronson threatened Brian Hickerson with the intent that Hickerson engage in conduct against his will. Also threatened were Corey Greene to provide payments of more than $500 to Bronson; James King to cash a check made payable to King for construction work completed and to return a kickback cash to Bronson a substantial portion of the said check proceeds; and Dr. Steven Hollar to perform professional dental services without payment.
Counts against Bronson were similar to those against Soto.
A tort claim was sent in September to the City of Warsaw and Warsaw Police Department on behalf of Soto and his wife, Carol, of 815 N. Zimmer Road, Warsaw.
The Sotos claimed they had become the target of a “vindictive and unfounded investigation,” sought damages of $2 million each and the return of all their personal and professional property. They filed the tort claiming an unlawful police investigation and seizure of property.
A Times-Union story on the tort  claim notes that Soto served as a spiritual mentor, counselor and later power of attorney for Bronson, then 54, Warsaw. Soto was the coordinator for Bronson’s necessary legal, medical and social services.
Bronson, who has a history of criminal activity, was involved with a movie production depicting his life and conversion to Christianity. Bronson also led a martial arts businesses in Warsaw.
Bronson became an active member of Christ’s Covenant Church in Warsaw, where the pastor and many church members were deeply invested in the movie.
The movie was never made, Bronson’s martial arts business failed and Bronson had a falling out with the church.
Bronson was arrested Dec. 30, 2014, in Kosciusko County for possession of cocaine with intent to deal and criminal gang activity.
Heaton, a member of the church, opened an investigation and sought out Soto for an interview. Heaton and Warsaw Police Department Chief Scott Whitaker found implications of Soto’s alleged participation in unspecified unlawful activity, which Soto denied, the filing stated.
Soto was served search warrants and the WPD took property and documents from his home as well as his Grace College office. The Sotos were represented by Warsaw attorney David Kolbe.
Witnesses during the grand jury hearing included Warsaw Police Department Chief Scott Whitaker, WPD Det. Sgt. Paul Heaton, Assistant Chief Bryan Sherwin, David Baker, Aaron Rypma, Neil Hodges, Al Lowrance, Chad Sherwood, Kory Fields, Mike Heady, Kyle Cooper, Justin Smith, James Winters, Kelly Prater, Paul Nowak, Tammy Rocky, Daniel Meza, Travis Nichols, Darcy Meade, Roberto Martinez, Joseph Courtois, Alvin Dials, Gordon Nash, Jayne Stoops, James Zimmerman, Drew Shingler, Matthew Holderman, Rocky Goshert, Michelle Hobbs, Eric Kelley, Don Wiesehan, John Lowe, Deb Miller, Robert Momeyer, Phil Heinzman, Kim Sivits, Brandon Zartman, Chelsea Robinson-Burkholder, Mandy Schultz, Todd Sautter, Chris McKeand, Joshua Lawson, Joe Mooney, Chris Rager, Mike Speigle, Matt Rapp, J.D. Ayers and Joel Popenfoose.