Tag Archives: indicted

Wisconsin businessman who landed state loans indicted

A federal grand jury this week indicted a Wisconsin businessman on charges that he conspired to fraudulently obtain bank loans.

Ronald Van Den Heuvel, 62, of De Pere was indicted Tuesday along with his 52-year-old wife and a bank employee, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Wisconsin Gregory J. Haanstad said.

The indictment alleges Van Den Heuvel; his wife, Kelly, who had her own corporation; and Paul Piikkila, 53, of Appleton, a loan officer at Horicon Bank, conspired to defraud the bank through loans made in 2008 and 2009. Prosecutors allege the loans were used to pay Van Den Heuvel’s employees and other debts, and the bank’s losses totaled more than $700,000.

Van Den Heuvel, founder of Green Box, a green energy company in Green Bay, is a longtime contributor to state politicians. The alleged bank fraud is separate from business deals in which Wisconsin’s flagship jobs agency — the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. — gave his businesses $1.2 million in loans but was later criticized for not looking closely enough into the company. Search warrants showed Van Den Heuvel was suspected of misrepresenting his business in that case, something he has denied.

According to the indictment, Piikkila approved more than $1 million in loans to corporations and individuals that were fronts for the Van Den Heuvels, despite Horicon Bank telling Piikkila not to loan money to Van Den Heuvel. Court documents allege the loans were not used for their intended purpose and were not backed with enough collateral.

The three are due in court May 6, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Van Den Heuvel and his attorney did not respond to messages from the newspaper seeking comment on the indictment. Piikkila’s attorney, Dan Sanders, said his client is cooperating with investigators.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Johnson said he was unable to comment on whether Van Den Heuvel’s conduct with WEDC also was the focus of an ongoing federal investigation.

Brown County sheriff’s deputies also raided the businessman’s offices last summer, according to the newspaper.

A spokesman for WEDC said the agency has improved its lending practices and continues to seek repayment of the Green Box loans for taxpayers.

Sandra Bland’s mother: Trooper perjury charge ‘not justice’

The mother of a black woman found dead in a Texas jail cell after a traffic stop in July expressed outrage this week that the white state trooper who pulled her over was only charged with nothing more than perjury. And even on that misdemeanor, Sandra Bland’s anguished mother said she had little confidence in the prospect of a conviction.

Geneva Reed-Veal told reporters in Chicago the trooper should have been charged with assault, battery and false arrest.

“To charge this guy with a misdemeanor, are you kidding me?” she said of the perjury charge, which carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. “I’m angry, absolutely. … That’s not justice for me.”

Bland, a 28-year-old former resident of Naperville, Illinois, was stopped in July for an improper lane change. The stop quickly escalated into a shouting match and a physical confrontation in which the trooper threatened to use a stun gun. Bland was arrested on suspicion of assaulting the trooper. Authorities say Bland hanged herself in her jail cell three days later.

Trooper Brian Encinia was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury in Texas on allegations that he lied when he claimed in an affidavit that Bland was “combative and uncooperative” after he pulled her over during the traffic stop and ordered her out of her car.

Hours after the indictment, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it would “begin termination proceedings” against Encinia, who has been on paid desk duty since Bland was found dead in her cell.

Reed-Veal said the trooper should not be out on the street “to infect anyone else’s life.”

The family has filed a civil rights lawsuit that it hopes will shed more light on what happened to Bland and compel authorities to release documents, including a Texas Rangers investigation into the case. Authorities had withheld the Rangers report, citing the grand jury process that has now finished.

Reed-Veal said the separate criminal proceedings in the trooper’s case would not bring “true justice.”

“Who is going to prosecute this guy? Is it the same group of folks who selected the grand jury?” she said, chuckling in apparent disbelief. “… I don’t trust the process.”

Encinia was not immediately taken into custody, and an arraignment date has not yet been announced. Encinia could not be reached for comment; a cellphone number for him was no longer working.

Bland’s arrest and death provoked national outrage and drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters questioned officials’ assertion that Bland killed herself and linked her to other blacks killed in confrontations with police or who died in police custody, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Encinia pulled Bland over on July 10 for making an improper lane change near Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater, where she had just interviewed for and accepted a job.

Dashcam video from Encinia’s patrol car shows Encinia drawing his stun gun and telling Bland, “I will light you up!” Bland eventually steps out of the vehicle, and Encinia orders her to the side of the road. She can later be heard off-camera screaming that he’s about to break her wrists and complaining that he knocked her head into the ground.

Encinia wrote in his affidavit that he had Bland exit the vehicle and handcuffed her after she became combative, and that she swung her elbows at him and kicked him in his right shin. Encinia said he then used force “to subdue Bland to the ground” and she continued to fight back. He arrested her, alleging assault on a public servant.

Bland was taken to the Waller County jail in Hempstead, Texas, about 50 miles northwest of Houston. Three days later, she was found hanging from a jail cell partition with a plastic garbage bag around her neck. The grand jury has already declined to charge any sheriff’s officials or jailers in her death.

NC church members indicted in beating of gay man

For Matthew Fenner, a crowd of parishioners gathering around him in a church sanctuary after a prayer service was a sign of trouble.

Within minutes, he said they began to berate him because he was gay. One woman told him he was “disgusting.” Then for two hours, they pushed and hit Fenner, screaming at him as they tried to “break me free of the homosexual ‘demons,’” he said in a police affidavit about the Jan. 27, 2013 attack.

Nearly two years later, five Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale, North Carolina, members have been indicted for kidnapping and assault in connection with Fenner’s beating.

But the case has opened new wounds in the rural North Carolina community where the church has been a lightning rod of controversy.

Now a student at the University of North Carolina, the 21-year-old Fenner told The Associated Press that he believed his life was in danger that night.

He said he had to press authorities to investigate his allegations because of the church’s influence in the community.

“The line between religion and abuse, they are crossing it quite severely. That’s why I’m doing this. They have to know you cannot hurt people,” he said.

But Joshua Farmer, whose law firm is representing the five church members, said that was nonsense.

“In short, this stuff is an absolute complete fabrication,” Farmer told the AP. “They are innocent of the charges.”

This is the latest controversy to surround the church founded in 1979 by Sam and Jane Whaley. The church, which has 750 members and operates a 35-acre complex in the rural community of Spindale, has been accused for years of enforcing extensive control over its congregation.

Former members say they were told by church leaders where to live and work, what to read, how to dress and when to have sex with their spouses.

Word of Faith also practices “blasting,” a form of hands-on, high-pitched, screaming prayer. The church says it doesn’t celebrate Christmas and other holidays because of their pagan origins.

The church was investigated twice in the late 1990s for its treatment of children but was cleared of any wrongdoing.

In recent years, national gay rights groups have criticized Word of Faith after several young men — whose parents are church members — claimed they were abused because they are gay.

“It’s pretty clear to me … that these individuals wanted to inflict pain on Matthew because of his sexual orientation,” said Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America, a group that addresses harm done to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people by “misguided religious teachings.”

Several telephone messages for church leaders, including Jane Whaley, were not returned. But Whaley has told the AP that her church has become a “target” — and they have spent millions in the past fighting off claims of abuse.

Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis and District Attorney Brad Greenway did not return telephone messages.

Justin Covington, 20, of Rutherfordton; Brooke Covington, 56, of Rutherfordton; Robert Walker Jr., 26, of Spindale; and Adam Bartley, 25, of Rutherfordton have been indicted on one count each of second-degree kidnapping and simple assault.

Sarah Covington Anderson, 27, of Rutherfordton, faces the same charges _ and one count of assault inflicting physical injury by strangulation. It’s unclear how the Covingtons are related, but the indictments show they live at the same Rutherfordton address.

The police documents and interviews with Fenner reveal details of the case.

Fenner’s family joined the church a few years ago at a time when Fenner said he was struggling with his sexuality.

He said he decided to attend the church and its school because of his mother.

“My mom and I were always really close and I just thought maybe I can keep an open mind and see if it works — see if I can change. Obviously, that was really a stupid decision because you can’t change who you are. But in my mind it seemed like the right thing to do,” he said.

During that period, he said he became a tutor, helping other students at the church, and going to services. He said church members suspected he was gay _ and later began harassing him, the police affidavit said.

But Fenner said nothing prepared him for what happened on Jan. 27, 2013.

After a nighttime church service, three members asked him to go to the back of the sanctuary.  In the affidavit, Fenner said the three were soon joined by about 20 others and they surrounded him. And that’s when “deliverance soon ensued.”

He said they began pushing him and hitting him and using “other violent measures” that were all part of the church’s way of trying to cure him of being gay.

It lasted about two hours before they let him leave.

When he got home, he said he told his mother, but she didn’t believe him _ even though he said he was covered in bruises.

He said he went to his grandparents’ house and he called the sheriff’s office. And he said that was the beginning of his struggle to get law enforcement to take action.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry indicted for abusing power

A grand jury today indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption, The Associated Press reports.

A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office — the same office that indicted U.S. Rep. Tom Delay as part of a finance probe.

Perry said he wouldn’t allow Texas to fund the unit unless Lehmberg resigned after she was arrested and pleaded guilty to drunken driving in April 2013. Her blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit for driving.

Other high-profile Republicans besides Perry called on Lehmberg to give up her post.

Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry, a 2016 presidential hopeful, did not testify. The criminal investigation could damage his political prospects. His 2012 presidential bid crashed a series of embarrassing gaffes and a debate performance in which he appeared to be stoned.

Grand jurors indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.

The second longest-serving governor in Texas history, Perry isn’t seeking re-election in November. He has not yet been arraigned on the charges.

Perry’s indictment is the first of its kind in Texas since 1917, when James “Pa” Ferguson was indicted for vetoing state funding to the University of Texas in an effort to unseat faculty and staff members he objected to. Ferguson was eventually impeached, then resigned before being convicted, allowing his wife, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, to take over the governorship.

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Ex-priest indicted in crystal meth case

A former Roman Catholic priest is among five people who have been indicted by a federal grand jury in an alleged drug operation involving shipments of methamphetamine to Connecticut from California.

Federal prosecutors said Kevin Wallin, 61, former pastor at St. Augustine’s parish in Bridgeport, received the shipments and sold methamphetamine to an undercover officer six times since last September. Prosecutors say investigators also gathered evidence from court-authorized wiretaps.

The grand jury in Bridgeport indicted the five people on Jan. 15 on charges of conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine and 50 grams of actual methamphetamine. Wallin, of Waterbury, was also charged with six counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The conspiracy charges carry 10 years to life in prison upon conviction.

All five are detained. It’s not clear if they have lawyers.

Also charged are Kenneth Devries, 52, of Waterbury, Michael Nelson, 40, of Manchester, Chad McCluskey, 43, of San Clemente, Calif., and Kristen Laschober, 47, of Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Wallin resigned as St. Augustine’s pastor in June 2011 after serving nine years in the post, citing health and personal issues, the Diocese of Bridgeport said in a statement. Officials with the Catholic Church granted Wallin a sabbatical the following month.

During the sabbatical, diocese officials became concerned about Wallin’s well-being and reached out to him, but he has never spoken directly to church officials, the diocese said in the statement, which did not elaborate.

Wallin’s faculties for public ministry were suspended in May 2012 and he has not been reassigned, the diocese said.

“News of Msgr. Kevin Wallin’s arrest comes with a sense of shock and concern on the part of the diocese and the many people of Fairfield County who have known him as a gifted, accomplished and compassionate priest,” the diocese said. “The diocese stands ready to help as it has throughout the past two years. We ask for prayers for Msgr. Wallin during the difficult days ahead for him.”

Man indicted for shooting at Family Research Council

Floyd Lee Corkins II was indicted on federal and D.C. charges this week for a shooting outside the Family Research Council’s office in Washington, D.C.

Corkins, 28, of Herndon, Va., is accused of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, the federal charge. Authorities say he traveled on the D.C. Metro from Virginia to the Washington with a 9 mm gun and ammunition.

Corkins also is accused of assault with intent to kill while armed, the D.C. charge. Authorities say he shot an unarmed security guard in the left arm at the FRC headquarters.

The Virginia man is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 24 for a preliminary hearing. He has been assigned a public defender and ordered held without bail in the case.

An FBI affidavit says that Corkins told the security guard that he didn’t like his politics before he fired.

Corkins, according to the FBI, was carrying a backpack that contained more ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. In his pocket was a paper with contact information for the Traditional Values Coalition, another ultra-right group.

Authorities have not offered details on a possible motive in the shooting.

Corkins has been ordered by a judge to undergo a mental evaluation.

Also not known is whether Corkins, a volunteer at a D.C. LGBT community center, is gay.