Hogsett Announces More Federal Charges in Fight Against Public Corruption
Former West Terre Haute Police Chief Facing Federal Firearms Charge
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 02, 2012|
TERRE HAUTE—Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced this afternoon that more charges have been brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as part of a focus on combating public corruption in Indiana. According to court documents made available today, former West Terre Haute Police Chief Mark J. Arnold, age 38, has been charged by information with making a false statement in connection with the acquisition more than two-dozen firearms.
“Hoosiers expect and deserve community leaders who work to end the scourge of public corruption in this state, not embrace it,” Hogsett said. “When these leaders come up short, when they violate that trust, it is both an opportunity for reflection and a time to redouble our efforts to ensure these tragedies do not happen in the future.”
According to the Information, Arnold has been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with knowingly making a false written statement in the purchase of 26 guns. It is alleged that these false statements were meant to deceive a federally licensed firearms dealer. It is alleged that Arnold told the firearms dealer that the guns he was purchasing were being acquired by the West Terre Haute Police Department for use in official duties. The information alleges that this was untrue, and Arnold violated the law when he knowingly attested that he would not transfer or resell the weapons personally.
Hogsett said that Arnold pleaded guilty to these charges late yesterday afternoon and that the court accepted his guilty plea. A sentencing hearing is expected to be scheduled by the court in the next 60 days. As part of Arnold’s agreement to plead guilty, the defendant has forfeited all rights to weapons he purchased as part of his illegal scheme. Arnold has been released under court supervision while he awaits sentencing and has been ordered to surrender his passport.
This investigation was the result of an investigation spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, it and comes as the U.S. Attorney’s Office has redoubled efforts to combat what Hogsett calls a “culture of corruption” in Indiana. This includes the launch this year of the U.S. Attorney’s Public Integrity Working Group.
“To protect and serve is a high calling which requires integrity and trust,” said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin P. Lyons.
“ATF will continue to investigate federal firearms violations at all levels to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations that have been established,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker, Columbus Field Division. “Illegal acquisitions and dispositions of firearms unfortunately compromises the integrity of this process and cannot be tolerated.”
The working group consists of representatives from federal and state law enforcement agencies and meets regularly to share information regarding public corruption investigations. This unique collaborative environment has allowed for greater cooperation between agencies and is designed to facilitate faster, more effective investigations into any allegation of public corruption.
Hogsett again acknowledged the critical role that whistleblowers often play in prosecutions of public corruption. He urged anyone with information relating to criminal activity to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office public corruption hotline at (317) 229-2443.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney James M. Warden, who is prosecuting the case for the government, the charges against Arnold carry with them maximum penalties of up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.