In a two-day jury in October, Paul A. Graber, 46, was found guilty by a 12-member jury on two counts of fraud on a financial institution.
In Kosciusko County Circuit Court today, approximately 20 members of the Amish community were present for Graber’s sentencing. One man said loudly in the courtroom before the judge entered, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Graber was found guilty of writing checks to Lake City Bank on closed bank accounts. A juror and a representative of a collection agency who was familiar with the case, said the checks were for large amounts, ranging from $11,000 to $60,000.
Graber represented himself during his trial and appeared again today without an attorney.
In the hearing, Judge Rex Reed noted Graber failed to keep an appointment with the probation department to assist with pre-sentence investigation report so the court has very little information on the defendant in order to determine an appropriate sentence. Graber said he did have a statement to make “at the appropriate time” but had no comment on the report itself.
In addressing the court, Graber asked to present evidence which included information that, in his opinion, facts presented in the trial were “all wrong.”
Graber read from a prepared statement alleging that the prosecutor in the case, R. Steven Hearn, made many mistakes and the court noted the errors but refused to acknowledge the errors. He repeatedly made reference to “Judge Miller” who the court identified as David Wynn Miller and noted he is not a judge. Miller was a witness for Graber in the jury trial.
“If we’re all wrong, what is right? If everyone’s just going through the motions of issuing opinions what is right? Where do we draw the line of being wrong and having opinions?” Graber read from his statement. He also said he did nothing maliciously and said everything he’s done his whole life were right. “Everyone in this trial did everything wrong and now you want to take away my freedom. What’s the court’s penalty for doing things wrong?”
Hearn also addressed the court saying he had some sympathy for Graber “because I believe he is a victim of a fraud (of David Miller), but that doesn’t give him the right to victimize anyone else.”
Miller, who was called as a witness in the trial, is a teacher of legal syntax in case law utilizing what he calls “correct sentence structure communication syntax.” Miller calls himself a federal judge and is affiliated with the Sovereign Citizen Movement. Defendants in court cases, including Graber, who have used Miller’s tactics to fight criminal charges have all been unsuccessful in courts of the United States and Canada, according to several websites.
Reed sentenced Graber to serve 4 years in prison on each of the two counts of fraud. He will receive credit for 20 days served. None of his time was suspended because Reed said Graber failed to provide probation with information that could have been used to determine either aggravating or mitigating circumstances that could have affected the sentence.
Drug Crime Sentencings
One of three individuals arrested on an anonymous drug tip in March of this year was sentenced in Kosciusko Circuit Court today.
Chase Elder, 28, of Warsaw, accepted a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to a Class B felony charge of dealing in methamphetamine. A charge of possession of chemical reagents or precursors with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance was dropped.
Under oath, Elder admitted that on March 12 he knowingly and intentionally manufactured methamphetamine and was operating a vehicle with the mobile meth lab.
Since his release on bond earlier this summer, Elder has been voluntarily staying at Serenity House, an addictions treatment center in Warsaw. Hoss Smith of Serenity House testified during the sentencing on behalf of Elder calling his progress in the program over the last five months successful and saying Elder has been an “absolutely” acceptable candidate.
Smith told the court, “It’s been our desire to come up with a program to help meth users out of their addictions. Several individuals have gone through the program …. to date, we’ve had 100 percent success with the 3-year program.”
Elder himself addressed the court saying, “The main problem I’ve had is transitioning from finding friends who don’t use (drugs). Now I live with 25 guys who try to do the same thing. I attend seven to 10 meetings a week and I have experienced things in the last five months that I never thought possible in my life. Without Hoss and the guys at the house, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today, your honor.”
Elder added, “I don’t want to lose the things that I’ve gained in the past five months” by going to prison.
Judge Rex Reed rendered an initial sentence of 8 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. He will received credit for 330 days served and must pay a drug interdiction fee of $200, along with court costs.
Reed told Elder, “The court does not at all minimize your sincerity, the court also notes it doesn’t have a lot of choice here and those are facts, if you will, that are brought out as a result of your conduct – your illegal conduct … The problem I have is that I’m restrained to looking at that mandatory sentence.”
However, in continuing, Reed noted that with the credit for time served and with Indiana’s one day served, one day credit rule, Elder will serve a minimum of two years in prison and will be placed on probation for two years.
Elder, along with Darci Lacher Munson, 19, also of Warsaw, and Thomas Edward Carter, 36, of Pierceton, were all arrested in March after drug team officers received an anonymous tip. Carter pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and had a suspended sentence of 4 years imprisonment.
Munson is to be sentenced at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13.
Edward G. Conley
Defense attorney Mike Miner called it “an extremely sad situation” in the case of
Edward G. Conley, 75, of Warsaw.
Conley was sentenced this morning to 6 years in prison for dealing in a Schedule I, II or III substance. A Class A felony count of dealing in a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a park was dismissed with Conley’s guilty plea.
Prior to handing down the sentence, Judge Reed said, “Mr. Conley, the fact remains it was your drugs that were being sold. They were your prescription pills that were being sold, and but not for your honesty I would have not have known you’ve been selling about 30 of them a month for quite some time. Most people aren’t honest enough to admit that.”
Reed ordered five of the six years suspended. Conley will also be required to pay a $200 drug interdiction fee, a $100 fine and court costs.