By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A man will serve at least four years in prison for two criminal cases, one of which involved burglarizing multiple lots at Jellystone Campgrounds, Pierceton.
In the first case, Thomas Lee Ankrom, 31, Converse, was charged with two counts of burglary, both level 4 felonies. Ankrom was also charged with resisting law enforcement, a level 6 felony; and possession of a cellular telephone while incarcerated, a class A misdemeanor, in a second case. Three theft charges, an unlawful possession of a firearm charge, a resisting law enforcement charge, a battery resulting in bodily injury to a public safety official, and an additional burglary charge were all dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Ankrom was sentenced in Kosciusko Superior Court 3 on Wednesday, Sept. 2.
Two co-defendants in the burglary case have already been sentenced. Kenneth Lee Sanchez, 22, Warsaw, was sentenced in January 2019 on three burglary charges. Sanchez was sentenced to five years in the Indiana Department of Correction. Michael Joseph Chapman, 31, Converse, was also sentenced in January 2019 on three burglary charges and a resisting law enforcement charge. Chapman was sentenced to eight years in DoC.
On Jan. 29, 2018, a Kosciusko County Sheriff’s officer responded to a burglary in progress at Jellystone Campgrounds in Pierceton. The officer noticed a vehicle headed north on CR 850E at a high rate of speed. According to court documents, the vehicle then turned west on CR 300N, disregarding a stop sign at SR 13. As the officer began pursuing the vehicle, the vehicle continued at a high rate of speed in excess of 90 mph. The pursuit continued into Whitley County, where the vehicle left the roadway and became stuck.
Officers identified the driver as Chapman and the passenger as Ankrom. While searching Ankrom’s person, officers found collectible coins that were individually packaged as if from a collection. Jellystone Campground security officers also found Sanchez inside the campground. It was later discovered that 19 residences at the campground had been forcibly entered. Officers also found four piles of electronic equipment, jewelry, CDs and other miscellaneous items in piles outside of a residence.
One resident said three handguns had been stolen from his residence. The three suspects were found to be in possession of the firearms. A second resident said a Blu-Ray player, television and other items were stolen from his residence. A third resident said three televisions, a DVD player, radio and other items were stolen from her residence.
Ankrom, Sanchez and Chapman were then taken into custody.
On Oct. 21, 2018, Kosciusko County Jail officers were conducting a search at the jail to remove contraband. During the search, Ankrom refused to comply with instructions. While searching the cell blocks, officers found a cellphone and charger. Ankrom later admitted the cellphone belonged to him.
For each burglary count, Ankrom was sentenced to nine years in DoC, with three years of each count suspended on probation. Both counts will run concurrently. Ankrom has 946 days of jail time credit in this case. Ankrom, along with his two co-defendants, must also pay $7,628.10 in restitution to the victims in this case.
For resisting law enforcement, Ankrom was sentenced to two years in DoC, with one year suspended on probation. For being in possession of a cellphone while incarcerated, Ankrom received a one year suspended sentence. Both charges will run concurrently. The sentence in this case will also run consecutively to the Jellystone burglaries incident.
In total, Ankrom received a seven-year prison sentence; after subtracting jail time credit, Ankrom will have to serve approximately four years in prison.