NORTH WEBSTER — Police arrested the owner of a North Webster nightclub during a raid early Thursday morning.
Samuel S. Stimmel, 64, was arrested on charges of corrupt business influence and promoting prostitution. Court documents provided by Kosciusko County prosecutors also indicate Stimmel faces charges of dealing in a synthetic drug lookalike substance.
Police said Stimmel was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail and later released on a $100,000 bond. Court documents list an address for Stimmel of 7227 Syracuse Webster Road, North Webster.
Four other people were also arrested in connection to the Stimmel case. The arrests mark the conclusion of an investigation by Centralized Drug Enforcement of Kosciusko County officers that started in July.
Chad Hill, public information officer with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, said police had received tips that lookalike drugs were being dealt out of Stimmelators Gentleman’s Club, 114 E. Washington St., and California Dreamin’, 108 E. Washington St. Both businesses are owned by Stimmel. Hill said Wednesday the investigation evolved into that of a potential prostitution operation.
The raidsAccording to police, officers raided a Warsaw hotel Wednesday evening and arrested four people on charges of promoting prostitution. Taken into custody were Donn Lee Rupert, 51, South Bend; Kimberly Kay Gill, 32, South Bend; Kelly Joe Whitman, 23, South Bend; and Christine Marie Bennett, 27, Warsaw.
Police then raided Stimmelators and California Dreamin’ shortly after midnight. According to Hill, officers seized a substantial amount of synthetic drugs or synthetic drug lookalike substances, as well as a large amount of cash. Police also searched a semi-trailer behind Stimmelators, and arrested Stimmel.
Officers from the Syracuse, Warsaw, Pierceton and North Webster police departments, along with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police, took part in the search of Stimmel’s businesses.
In the wake of the Thursday morning raid, one North Webster businesswoman was supportive of the police action.
No fan of StimmelatorsMarilyn Copeland is the owner of the Future Heirlooms custom framing and art studio, located just south of Stimmelators at 119 S. Main St. Copeland said she isn’t at all surprised that the business has run into trouble with the law.
“I thought something must be up when I came into work this morning, because nobody was standing outside waiting to get in over at the little shop there, California Dreamin’ or whatever it’s called,” Copeland said of Stimmel’s other business, which is directly connected to the Stimmelators Gentleman’s Club. “...I knew something shady was going on there, because just in the time it takes me to get out of my car and head into my shop in the morning, you’d see five or six cars come in and out of there. And it was like that all day, every day, even on Sundays. They’re like cockroaches. They just skitter in and out and then they’re gone.”
As for the charges of prostitution, Copeland said that, too, doesn’t really surprise her. Copeland also said that regardless of what happens with Stimmel and his businesses, any increase in police scrutiny toward the operations is a good thing for her business and for the community.
“I think it would be safer for the community, definitely,” Copeland said. “...There are lots of other places in the area people can go if they want a drink or whatever that isn’t so low class, if you want to call it that. So for me personally, I wouldn’t be sad to see it go.”