Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Breaking News

May 13, 2014

Two Elkhart County Jail officers arrested

ELKHART — Prosecutors have filed charges against two former Elkhart County corrections officers. One man is accused of having sexual relations with an inmate, the other of smuggling contraband into the jail.

Adrian J. Long, 24, and Aaron M. Vandekeere, 22, have been charged with crimes related to their official duties, prosecutors said Tuesday. The charges, filed Thursday of last week, stemmed from two investigations by Elkhart County police.

Prosecutors said that in April, corrections investigators with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department started an investigation into an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship between a female inmate and Long, who at that time was employed as an Elkhart County corrections officer. Long has since resigned that position.

As a result of the investigation, prosecutors charged Long with sexual misconduct by service provider with detainee, a Class C felony punishable by up to eight years in prison. Prosecutors said Long turned himself in to police, and his bond is set at $20,000.

In a separate investigation in April, corrections investigators with the sheriff’s department developed information alleging that a corrections officer was offering to smuggle contraband into the Elkhart County Correctional Facility. During the course of the investigation, Elkhart County police requested assistance from the Elkhart County Interdiction and Convert Enforcement (ICE) Unit.

According to prosecutors, investigators determined that Vandekeere was the corrections officer alleged to be smuggling contraband.

According to investigators, Vandekeere offered to smuggle into the jail two packs of cigarettes, a lighter and/or a cell phone in exchange for money. Vandekeere allegedly contacted an undercover officer via telephone and met with the undercover officer on April 17 to acquire the contraband and payment. This contraband was then allegedly passed to an inmate in the jail.

Prosecutors also said that on April 24, Vandekeere again met with an undercover officer who provided Vandekeere with an operational cell phone and phone card. The following day Vandekeere allegedly brought the phone into the jail without authorization and provided it to an inmate.

Elkhart County police arrested Vandekeere April 25. Vandekeere was also fired as a jail officer.

Prosecutors have charged Vandekeere with two counts of trafficking with an inmate, one as a Class C felony and the other a Class A misdemeanor. Vandekeere faces up to eight years in prison on the Class C felony and up to one year on the Class A misdemeanor. His bond is set at $25,000.

In an announcement Tuesday, Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney Curtis T. Hill Jr. said, “The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department acted swiftly and decisively upon learning of these accusations. I join with Sheriff (Brad) Rogers in placing the highest priority on preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

Sheriff Rogers scheduled a 9 a.m. Wednesday press conference at the law enforcement center training room to address the issue.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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