PORTAGE — A Portage police officer allegedly shattered a glass closet door and smashed a cellphone before headbutting his girlfriend early Saturday morning.
Brian Chelich, 41, of Portage, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury following the incident in the 6500 block of Portage Avenue. He has been released from Porter County Jail. An initial hearing on the charges was Monday morning in front of Porter Superior Court Judge Mike Drenth.
Porter County sheriff's police were called by Portage Police Chief Troy Williams to investigate the allegations.
When sheriff's police arrived at the home about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, the girlfriend had a large, open laceration across the bridge of her nose. The injury was bleeding and becoming swollen, said Sgt. Jamie Erow, the Sheriff's Department's public information officer.
The girlfriend told police she and Chelich had a verbal argument at her place of employment after it closed regarding another man, and they left the business separately.
When she arrived home, Chelich was not home, so she went to bed. The woman told police when Chelich came home, he stormed into the bedroom, grabbed her cellphone, shattered the screen and then punched and elbowed the glass bi-fold closet door, breaking both doors and shattering the glass, Erow said.
When Chelich walked out of the bedroom into the living room to lay on the couch, the woman went into the living room to retrieve her shoes to leave the house.
She told police the argument started again, and while they were standing face to face, Chelich allegedly headbutted her in the nose, causing her injuries.
The woman used his cellphone to call 911.
Chelich then allegedly retrieved several items, including his police badge, ID, police-issued firearm and keys to his squad car, and placed them in the living room for police as they both waited for officers to arrive.
Officers saw a fresh cut with fresh blood on Chelich’s forehead, as well as injuries to his left middle finger and upper right arm, consistent with him breaking the glass door and headbutting the woman, police said. Chelich was transported to Valparaiso Medical Center for medical treatment before being transported to Porter County Jail.
Williams said Chelich, an approximate 13-year veteran of the department, has been placed on administrative leave, and the Police Department is seeking his termination.
CROWN POINT — An East Chicago man told police he blacked out while drinking Friday and did not remember carjacking a man in a McDonald's drive-through, crashing the stolen car or being captured by police, record allege.
Jody C. Skipper, 35, was charged Saturday with felony armed robbery, intimidation and auto theft, Lake Criminal Court records show.
Skipper is accused of approaching a man in a white 2005 Chevrolet Impala with a knife as the man ordered food in the drive-through at the McDonald's restaurant at 1811 E. Columbus Drive.
Skipper allegedly demanded a ride. When the man refused, Skipper used a racial slur against the man and threatened to kill him, court records say.
The man exited his vehicle with a shovel, and Skipper got in it and drove away, records say.
Police found the vehicle crashed in front of a city library and stopped Skipper as he ran away.
Skipper told police he was in Michigan City drinking apple-flavored Crown Royal and Bud Light earlier in the day and did not remember how he got to East Chicago, records say.
He allegedly told police he tends to black out when he drinks hard liquor.
CROWN POINT — A Gary man's trial on charges alleging he shot a friend and the friend's pregnant girlfriend in 2017 was postponed Monday because of allegations that a witness in the case was harmed.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez granted Jarod D. Johnson's motion to continue the jury trial after court security officers brought Johnson into to the courtroom in handcuffs to discuss the developments with defense attorney Mark Gruenhagen.
Vasquez cautioned Gruenhagen that delaying the trial could strengthen the state's case against Johnson. Evidence of witness tampering or intimidation often is admissible at trial, the judge said.
Deputy Prosecutor David Rooda said a witness in the 2017 case was in the hospital.
Gary and Lake County sheriff's police did not immediately respond to requests for information about how the witness was harmed.
Gruenhagen said Johnson's mother and brother were in custody and noted the seriousness of the new allegations.
In light of the new allegations, a plea agreement in the 2017 case and possible new case might be an option, Gruenhagen said. He asked that the trial be continued.
Rooda objected to any continuance.
Vasquez said, "Given the turn of events, the request is granted."
No charges had been filed as of Monday in the alleged attack on the witness.
Johnson, 22, been scheduled to stand trial on nine felony charges alleging he shot a friend in the face and thigh and shot the man's pregnant girlfriend twice in the chest June 13, 2017, as they walked away from the Gary Metro Center. The woman's unborn child survived the attack, court records say.
The victim told police Johnson likely targeted him because Johnson's family believed he gave authorities information about Johnson's brother's whereabouts before the brother's arrest in Chicago, records say.
Vasquez warned the victim in January 2018 to cooperate with Johnson's defense attorney after he refused to answer questions during a deposition.
Johnson was released to court-ordered GPS monitoring and home detention in September because of delays ahead of his trial.
He is accused of violating the terms of his pretrial release by not recharging his ankle monitor over the weekend, Rooda said. The monitor was charged Monday before Johnson arrived at the courthouse in Crown Point.
Vasquez ordered Johnson held without bail and set a hearing for Thursday on the alleged monitoring violation.
HAMMOND — Convicted former Portage Mayor James Snyder solicited a bribe from local truck company owners to pay for his family's Christmas and his tax debt, recently filed court documents allege.
Federal prosecutors filed the allegation in response to Snyder's request for a new trial.
Snyder was removed from office in February after a Hammond federal jury found him guilty of felony bribery and tax charges.
Prosecutors noted they based the recent filing on the grand jury testimony by former owners of Great Lakes Peterbilt, Steve and Bob Buha.
"The Buhas painted themselves as victims of a shakedown by Snyder — one they claimed to be unconnected to their company’s receipt of over $1.125 million in contracts from Portage just days earlier," the filing states.
"According to the Buhas, sometime after they were awarded the second round contract (Dec. 23, 2013) and approximately a week before they wrote the $13,000 check to Snyder (Jan. 10, 2014), Snyder showed up unannounced at GLPB and told them he needed $15,000 to pay for his family’s Christmas and tax debt he owed the IRS. And although he said he would work for the money, he needed it up front," prosecutors wrote in the filing.
Snyder, who was convicted Feb. 14 of taking $13,000 from the Buhas in exchange for steering contracts to them, has filed motions asking the courts to set aside the jury's verdict or have a new trial.
Snyder also was convicted of tax obstruction for filing false documents and lying to the IRS in an effort to avoid paying personal and business taxes.
He was acquitted of a second bribery charge regarding an alleged tow-for-pay scheme.
Snyder is scheduled to be sentenced May 24 and faces up to 13 years in prison.
Snyder's former co-conspirator, towing company owner John Cortina, who pleaded guilty in the tow-for-pay scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced June 7.
Snyder's brother, Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder, who testified against James Snyder in the 19-day trial, pleaded guilty in federal court on an unrelated tax charge. Jon Snyder's sentencing is slated for June 4.
James Snyder requested a new trial contending prosecutors acted inappropriately, especially in the charge involving the Buhas. He contended prosecutors prevented the Buhas from testifying on Snyder's behalf.
Prosecutors refute those allegations in the recent court filing.
CROWN POINT — Jamal Washington continued to insist Monday a computer is "being hidden" from him as part of his latest domestic battery case, despite a deputy prosecutor's statement that he can pick up his property at the Gary police station.
Washington, 45, a former Lake County councilman with two domestic battery convictions, appeared before Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell.
Washington's attorney Michael Lambert said Washington believes one of the computers the state is ready to release to him doesn't belong to Washington.
Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Arnold said if the desktop computer to which Washington was referring is a gaming computer listed in court records, he may pick it up by making arrangements with detectives.
Police and prosecutors examined the computer and found no evidence on it, she said.
Police also were reviewing data on a laptop computer and two cellphones, which authorities determined do not belong to Washington. The cellphones will not be released to Washington, Arnold said.
If Washington believes there is any evidence on the property available for pickup, he is free to examine it himself, she said.
Police and prosecutors had been under a court order to review materials on the property in dispute and return any items that belong to Washington to him by Friday.
Lambert said Washington was having a difficult time reaching a detective to make arrangements to pick up his property. He said it might be better if there were a court order specifying which property was to be released by police.
Boswell told Lambert and Arnold to work together to prepare an order.
Washington is accused of beating and threatening to kill his one-time political ally LaVetta Sparks-Wade during a 16-hour ordeal Jan. 29 and 30 at her Gary home. Washington has pleaded not guilty.
A hearing on the state's petition to revoke Washington's probation on a November 2018 conviction for misdemeanor battery and interference with reporting a crime is scheduled for April 30.