ELKHART — Kevin Bronson, Warsaw, the last to be sentenced in the trio indicted by a Kosciusko County Grand Jury in February, 2016, feels he has a foot on his neck. Bronson was sentenced Friday afternoon in the courtroom of Special Judge Stephen Bowers, Elkhart Superior Court 2.
Bowers accepted the plea agreement presented before the court on July 14. The terms of that agreement are Bronson would enter a guilty plea to count 1, corrupt business influence, a class C felony, and be sentenced to seven years. All other charges would be dropped. The sentence would be served with the Elkhart County Community Corrections. Regarding time served, the figure will be re-evaluated to assure Bronson was given the appropriate time. It is believed he has 364 days credit.
Bronson is expected to serve 3 ½ years of that seven-year sentence.
Bronson informed the court he has been incarcerated since Dec. 29, 2014. He was sentenced on March 8, 2016, on the possession of cocaine charge, to an 854-day executed sentence and given 435 days of good time credit. It was also on that date the grand jury indictment charges were presented and an initial hearing held.
Bronson advised the court his pre-sentence investigation report was given to him 30 minutes before he was transported to the court building. He stated there were corrections needing made, but added, “the press is behind me and I can’t talk to you about it.”
Bronson presented his attorney Peter Todd with several pieces of paper. These items were discussed at the bench between Bowers, Todd and Special Prosecutor C. Nelson Chipman and deputy prosecutor Matthew Sarber.
During Bronson’s statement to the court, he frequently noted his frustration with how the two other co-defendants C. Arron Rovenstine and Dr. Mark Soto, have been treated, compared to himself, noting both spent one hour in jail, while he has spent 1 ½ years in solitary confinement and lost everything. “I told the truth and have not thrown rocks,” he stated. He also proceeded to tell the judge about his executed sentence on the cocaine charges. “My life has more complications, half of that packet doesn’t fit Kevin Bronson,” he said. “I’m the only one who stood before you and told the truth, but I continue to get beat up.”
Bowers noted the court had little discretion in the sentencing on the matter, due to the plea agreement, but went on record noting aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Regarding aggravating factors, Bowers noted Bronson’s lengthy criminal record, the significant sum of money lost by individuals in the case and Bronson’s number of probation violations. For the mitigating factors, Bronson’s health was mentioned.
According to statute, Bowers sentenced Bronson to seven years to the Indiana Department of Corrections, followed by an order that time be served with the community corrections program “at a level they deem appropriate.” He also noted any restitution would need to be made in civil court.
Bronson however, argued with the court the plea agreement he signed had no language regarding the DOC. “That’s the main reason I signed it.”
Bowers, using the patience of Job, explained the sentencing procedures per state statute and reiterating the community corrections program. However, Bronson continued to question the sentencing asking what would stop someone in work release from getting him in trouble. “It’s their word against mine. I signed the agreement with no mention of the DOC … no way can that happen. You’re an intelligent man … testified and gave information about the Aryan Brotherhood and mafia … (Rovenstine and Soto) walk away with all their money, family, homes …”
Bowers assured Bronson if there is a problem, it will be addressed if and when it occurs. “In my experience it is not likely to happen … the sentence stands and we’ll address any difficulties when it occurs.”