VALPARAISO — Local business owner Bob Kotynski said he is consulting lawyers after spending nearly three full days behind bars without bond only to be released Tuesday after it was discovered the warrant had been based on faulty information.
Officials tied to the case said there were a series of mishaps, including one involving Kotynski himself.
The 61-year-old owner of United Machine Corp. said he went to bed Saturday night after being away at a trade show only to be awakened early Sunday morning by knocking at his door. He opened the door to find two police officers announcing he was under arrest and providing little more details than it was based on a domestic battery case from five years earlier.
"I was supposed to go to church and sing in the choir, but that didn't happen," Kotynski said.
He said he was confused because he knew he had complied with all the obligations from the earlier criminal case, which was supposed to result in the charge being dismissed.
He said he was even more confused after arriving at the jail and learning he was not eligible to post bond.
"I'm like, 'You're kidding me,'" he said.
Kotynski said he spent the next two and a half days in a holding cell with a light on 24 hours a day, with a roommate who slept all the time, without anything to read or television to watch, with loud noises going on around him and a wake-up call each night at 11:30 p.m. for a shower. He also had to wait until Monday to receive any medication for a headache.
"One of the most awful things you can go through," he said.
Because county government was closed Monday in recognition of Veterans Day a day earlier, it was not until Tuesday afternoon that Kotynski was taken before Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester. He then learned he had been held on allegations of failing to comply with the obligations from the earlier criminal case. But it also was confirmed at the hearing that the allegations were wrong.
"Nobody said it was their fault," he said. "They just said, 'Dismissed.'"
Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Dennis Caviston said the ball got rolling Sept. 28 when his office received an email from Porter County PACT, a community service nonprofit, that Kotynski had failed to sign up for community service stemming from the 5-year-old criminal case.
A court hearing was scheduled for Nov. 7 and a notice was sent via certified mail ordering Kotynski to attend, he said. The piece of mail went unclaimed and when Kotynski failed to show up at the hearing, Chidester issued a warrant for his arrest.
Kotynski said he never saw the piece of mail in question in between himself preparing for the trade show and his wife helping with a wedding.
"It was his failure to appear in court, as ordered, not his failure to complete his domestic violence programming that caused his incarceration," Chidester said in a statement when asked about the case. "He was unlucky enough to be jailed during the long Veterans Day weekend."
PACT Director Tammy O'Neill said in a letter this week to Kotynski that the organization's records show he successfully completed the Stop Abuse and Violence through Education program on Jan. 6, 2014, and paid the balance of the program fee on Sept. 8, 2014.
This satisfactory report is posted on the computer system used by the county courts and prosecutors, she said.
Kotynski said he does not understand why no one with the local legal system checked their own computer system before initiating the case or issuing the warrant.
Caviston said the criminal charge from five years earlier was officially dismissed Tuesday.
Recent arrests booked into Porter County Jail