Home Indianapolis Press Releases 2014 Week in Review—South Bend

Week in Review—South Bend

U.S. Attorney’s Office February 21, 2014
  • Northern District of Indiana (219) 937-5500

SOUTH BEND, IN— The United States Attorney’s Office announced the following activity in federal court:

Pleas (before Magistrate Judge Christopher A. Nuechterlein):

  • Michael Hillebrand, III, 30, of Mishawaka, Indiana, pled guilty to the felony offense of theft of government property. The magistrate is recommending that the district court accept the tendered guilty plea. Parties have 14 days in which to object to the magistrate judge’s recommendation. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Department of Labor. Sentencing has been set for Mary 22, 2014. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Barbara Brook.
  •  Joseph Golden, 27, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, pled guilty to the felony offense of attempting to enter a bank to commit larceny. The magistrate is recommending that the district court accept the tendered guilty plea. Parties have 14 days in which to object to the magistrate judge’s recommendation. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sentencing has been set for May 22, 2014. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Donald Schmid.

If convicted in court, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Dispositions (before District Judge Robert L Miller, Jr.):

  • Rick Franklin, 55, of South Bend, Indiana, was sentenced to 71 months’ imprisonment with three years’ supervised release and to pay $40,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to the felony offense of knowingly and intentionally possessing a vehicle which had altered or removed VINs with the intent to dispose of the vehicles. According to documents filed in this case, in February 2013, law enforcement stopped a trailer hauling a Bobcat Skid Steer loader on U.S. 31. The Bobcart Skid Steer loader had been “re-vinned” (the proper VIN removed and a different one substituted), and Franklin was involved with the re-vinning. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Schaffer.
  • Christopher Wilhite, 33, of Monon, Indiana, was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment with five years’ supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of child pornography plus forfeiture allegation. According to documents filed in this case, from October 2011 to May 2012, Wilhite possessed a laptop computer onto which he had downloaded numerous images and videos that depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Wilhite subsequently transferred those computer files to an external hard drive. In October 2012, the laptop and external hard drive were seized at Wilhite’s residence by law enforcement. This case resulted from an investigation by members of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the Department of Homeland Security, state, and local task force.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Maciejczyk.
  • Michael Spurgeon, 47, of Elkhart, Indiana, was sentenced to two years’ probation after pleading guilty to the felony offense of knowingly manufacturing marijuana. According to documents filed in this case, in February 2013, DEA entered a garage in Elkhart, Indiana. Law enforcement discovered marijuana plants, grow materials, and grow lights in the building. The marijuana growing equipment and items were the property of Spurgeon. This case was the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Schaffer.
  •  Raymond Belsan, 33, of Syracuse, Indiana, was to 120 months’ imprisonment with seven years’ supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of distribution of child pornography. According to documents filed in this case, in September 2012, Belsan possessed a custom built desktop computer onto which he had downloaded numerous images and videos that depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Belsan also utilized file sharing programs which he used to download these images from others via the Internet. Belsan also enabled file sharing for others to access some of the child pornography on his machine. This case resulted from an investigation by members of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Maciejczyk.

Disposition (before District Judge Jon E. DeGuilio):

  • Dontrell Smith, 24, of South Bend, Indiana, was sentenced to 40 months with three years’ supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. According to documents filed in this case, in August 2013, Smith possessed a PT111 Pro Millennium, Caliber 9mm handgun loaded with ammunition. Previously, Smith had been convicted of possession of cocaine. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Donald Schmid.