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Sobriety Checkpoint for St. John Area

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The Lake County Traffic Safety Partnership will be conducting a Sobriety Check Point in the St. John area sometime this weekend. The goal of the check point is to remove impaired drivers from the roadways. Drivers will need to show their license and registration to the officers. Drivers will only be delayed for about two minutes unless there are signs of impairment from drug or alcohol usage.
Starting tonight you can expect to encounter sobriety checkpoints during the late evening hours around the Region as part of a safety blitz that covers St. Patrick's Day. In Lake County:, Hammond and Merrillville Police, along with the Lake County Traffic Safety Partnership, will focus on aggressive and impaired drivers using roving patrols, and will be conducting sobriety checkpoints, as part of “Operation Pull-Over Blitz” that begins today [March 8th ] and runs through March 24th. Indiana State Police Lowell Post, in conjunction with the Northern Porter County Traffic Safety Partnership, and Portage Police, will be conduct checkpoints in Porter County. The LaPorte County DUI Task Force has announced a sobriety checkpoint this Saturday night.
The Lake County Traffic Safety Partnership includes Cedar Lake PD, Crown Point PD, Dyer PD, East Chicago PD, Griffith PD, Highland PD, Hobart PD, Lowell PD, Munster PD, New Chicago PD, Schererville PD, and St. John PD.
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School Resource Officers in the Spotlight

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With school safety top-of-mind after the Connecticut school shooting tragedy, school resource officers were in the spotlight at a free legal seminar in Indianapolis. Juvenile justice, human trafficking and online crimes against children were also part of discussion at Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's third annual Criminal and Civil Justice Summit attended by some 245 people.
More from the Indiana Attorney General's office: With school safety under a spotlight nationwide since the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedy, the first session of Thursday'’s Criminal and Civil Justice Summit focused on school resource officer (SRO) programs where specially trained law enforcement officers are stationed at schools to protect students and teachers.  One of this morning’s speakers was Mo Canady, executive director of the National School Resource Officer Association (NASRO), who addressed the role of police in school safety policies.  The approaches taken in Indiana schools were discussed by Carmel police officer D.J. Schoeff who is SRO for Carmel Middle School, and Fort Wayne police officer Chris Crapser who is SRO in the Fort Wayne Community Schools.
Last fall, prior to the Newtown tragedy, the Attorney General’s Office conducted a needs assessment study where Indiana educators and law enforcement indicated they would like to make more school resource officers available in their schools but funding is an obstacle.Zoeller reiterated his support for a bill now moving through the Legislature, Senate Bill 1, that would define school resource officers in law and provide state matching grants to help schools create or expand SRO positions through local control and decision-making.  He invited the three SRO experts to speak at today’s summit, whose theme was “Keeping Hoosier Children From Harm.”
“The increase in the dangers that are present to our children require the State of Indiana to do more to meet our obligations to the most vulnerable in our society. This justice summit brings together the three branches of state government, local school administrators, members of law enforcement and others who serve and protect the children of our state to find ways to work together collaboratively in a common effort,” Zoeller said.
As the lawyer for state government, Zoeller has organized two previous Criminal and Civil Justice Summits, or free legal seminars, to facilitate discussion among attorneys, judges, prosecutors, legislators, policymakers and the public on subjects facing the judicial system.  Past summit topics included the impact of the mortgage foreclosure crisis on homeowners, and disparities between counties in seeking the death penalty due to costs that resulted in fairness concerns.
Other session topics and speakers in Thursday'’s Criminal and Civil Justice Summit include:
Juvenile Detention Reform.  Under the leadership of Judge Marilyn Moores of Marion Superior Court Juvenile Division, Marion County became a site for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  Judge Moores led efforts to enact system-wide reforms to reduce the number of juvenile detainees while maintaining public safety.  Judge Moores today led a panel discussion on approaches to juvenile detention reform.
 
Child Victims of Human Trafficking.  Indiana’s anti-human-trafficking task force, IPATH, and the Attorney General’s Office have worked to raise awareness about children becoming victims of human trafficking and prostitution due to criminals who support the commercial sex industry.  Because of concerns about human trafficking associated with large sporting events, Indiana in 2012 passed a new trafficking law prior to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.  At today’s summit, attendees heard from Deputy Attorney General Abigail Kuzma, chief counsel of the Consumer Protection Division, and Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Mary Hutchison, who handles human trafficking investigations and prosecutions.
Investigating and Prosecuting Internet Sex Offenders.  Law enforcement has found that sex offenders who prey upon children typically use the Internet to lure their victims.  The Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, or ICAC, is a local, state and federal partnership that works to combat online predators.  Steven DeBrota, Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, discussed his work prosecuting such cases.
Thursday’s four summit topics were among the list of priorities Attorney General Zoeller announced in 2012 as part of his second-term agenda.
The school resource officer legislation, Senate Bill 1, recommended by the Attorney General and authored by State Senator Pete Miller, R-Avon, passed 43-7 in the full Indiana Senate on Feb. 25 and has advanced to the Indiana House.  If passed into law, SB 1 would do the following:
·         Update the statute to legally define school resource officers as being law enforcement officers who have at least 40 additional hours of certified SRO training.  Such officers could be employed directly by schools or work for law enforcement agencies and be assigned to schools under an agreement.
·         Create a Secured School Fund from which schools could apply for two-year matching grants of up to $50,000 each, to use to 1) employ a school resource officer, 2) conduct a threat assessment of school buildings, or 3) purchase equipment and technology to restrict access to school property or expedite notification of first responders.
·         Set up a five-member board that includes the Attorney General that would review grant applications and award funding to qualifying proposals.
The Indiana General Assembly is considering Senate Bill 1 even as the White House recently announced a proposal for a $150 million federal grant program to fund 1,000 resource officers and school counselors nationwide in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy.  Zoeller said the Attorney General’s Office will closely monitor whatever federal grant program might emerge, and he will work closely with the Department of Education, the Legislature and other state agencies to make schools aware of any federal funding opportunities that could complement state grants.
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Valpo Fire Origin Possibly Basement

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Fire officials in Valparaiso say they don't know if they'll ever be able to determine what caused a blaze that destroyed a century-old building in downtown Valparaiso Monday – because they had to demolish what was left of it for safety reasons – but they say it's starting to look like it might have started in the basement, according to the Times today. What was left of the structure had to be brought down to prevent those exterior walls from collapsing onto nearby buildings or the street.
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/valpo-fire-might-have-started-in-basement/article_7fba7ba6-d86b-5eaf-a779-52693c2a8085.html
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Almost 200,000 Minivans in U.S. Being Recalled by Ford

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Almost 200-thousand Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans., from 2004 through 2007, are being recalled in 20 states, including Indiana. Ford reported today that rust issues can cause the third-row seats to come loose. The auto maker says there have not been any crashes or injuries associated with the problem, and that those who own these vehicles will get a letter in the mail, officially notifying them of the recall later this month.
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Man gets 19 Yrs for Crash that Killed a Crown Point Native

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A 34 year old man who was found guilty last year to leaving the scene of an accident that later resulted in the death of a Crown Point native was sentenced to 19 years in prison Thursday. The Times reports Delaney Jarvis drove his vehicle through the right lane to make a right-turn, causing a motorcycle driven by the Crown Point native to hit another vehicle, and that the man died three-days later. Published reports say Jarvis was driving on a suspended license when the incident occurred, in June of 2011, in south suburban Olympia Fields, Illinois.
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Hounds About Town Fundraiser for Porter Co Animal Shelter

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Attention animal lovers, a community service group for kids is conducting a fundraiser to raise some much-needed money for the Porter County Animal Shelter. 9 year old Giana Gavaller says she came up with the idea of the “Hounds About Town” program due to her love of dogs, and thought it be a great thing for the members of Kids Power to take part in.
The fundraiser works like this: Porter County businesses can purchase a 31-inch dog statue for 200-dollars by March 15th, and the statues will be delivered by April 15th. The business then decorates them, and puts them on display in a prominent place in or outside their business. The public has the entire month of May to view the decorated dogs, get a code listed on the statue, and vote for their favorite, which enters them into a drawing for a cash prize.
Giana says the goal is to raise ten-thousand dollars for a furnace and washer and dryer at the animal shelter. For information on how to get a dog statue, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (219) 242-7026.  You can also visit them online at Facebook or on their website, http://kidspowerportercounty.org
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Lawsuit Accuses Indiana BMV of Overcharging Residents

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A lawsuit was filed today by an Indianapolis attorney accusing the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles of overcharging state residents. According to the article in the Indianapolis Star, Attorney Irwin B. Levin asked the Marion Superior Court to give the suit “class-action status”, so the alleged overcharges can be returned to those who paid for a driver's license over the last six-years.
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Read more: Lawsuit Accuses Indiana BMV of Overcharging Residents

 

Bulletproof Vest Pgm Reauthorization Introduced

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First District Congressman Peter Visclosky and New Jersey Congressman Frank LoBiondo have introduced a four year reauthorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program. Created in 1999 by the two lawmakers, the program provides funds to state, local and tribal law enforcement officers to buy protective gear. The last reauthorization in 2008 expired in October 2012.
More info: WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressmen Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Peter Visclosky (IN-01) have introduced a four year reauthorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program. Created in 1999 by the two lawmakers, the bipartisan BVP program provides state, local and tribal law enforcement officers with needed protection by aiding the purchase of protective equipment. The last reauthorization in 2008 expired in October 2012.
“The men and women in our local law enforcement play an essential role in safeguarding our communities and protecting the freedoms all of us enjoy. Bulletproof vests and body armor have saved thousands of law enforcement officers. However, they cannot protect the lives of those who do not have access to them,” said LoBiondo. “As protectors of our lives and our property, it is imperative that we give law enforcement the critical tools they need so they may do their jobs and carry out their duties safely and effectively. The Bulletproof Vest Partnership program is one of those critical tools.”
"Our families have entrusted the men and women of state and local law enforcement with the responsibility of protecting their lives, their homes, and their property. We must ensure that each and every officer has access to the equipment, training, and support they need as they place their lives on the line for us. Bulletproof vests are crucial, lifesaving tools, and the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program helps local law enforcement agencies acquire them. I am proud to support the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program," said Visclosky.
Since 1999, over 13,000 jurisdictions across the country have participated in the BVP program with nearly $300 million in federal funds committed to support the purchase of more than 1 million vests. Additional information on the BVP program can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bvpbasi
The lawmakers’ bipartisan bill, “The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 2013” (H.R. 988), was introduced on the House floor yesterday.
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Additional Bank Robbery Charges Filed

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The U-S Attorney's Office in Hammond says a 44-year-old Gary man is facing additional bank robbery counts. Officials say Stacy Davis, who was charged earlier with robbing banks in Merrillville in Munster, has now been charged with the October 2nd, 2012, bank robbery of TCF Bank in Munster, and the robbery of Chase Bank in Merrillville October 3rd, 2009. The charges were filed as the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation GRIT Task Force.
News Release:  Stacy Davis, 44, of Gary, Indiana, was charged in a superseding Indictment adding two additional bank robbery counts to the original indictment; the bank robbery of TCF Bank in Munster, Indiana on October 2, 2012 and the robbery of Chase Bank in Merrillville, Indiana on October 3, 2009.    These charges were filed as the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation GRIT Task Force.  This case has been assigned to and will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Chang-Adiga.
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Update: Burned Business Finds Bride in Alaska

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We have an update on a story we ran earlier about a bride-to-be in Alaska who didn't know her wedding dress was among the items destroyed by fire that consumed a commercial building in downtown Valparaiso earlier this week. Anita's Alterations was in that building for 22 years, and owner Anita Hall tells us their customer contact information and the back ups were all lost -- and they've trying to reach everyone, including that bride-to-be who's thousands of miles away. Today Hall tells us they have located her "through your radio station. The message that you put out yesterday, there were people that heard," Hall said, and said that sounded like somebody they knew and "they made their phone calls and they got through to her for us."  Hall says she's asking all her customers to call her regular business number to get in touch with her -- 219-477-5307.   She also says they are planning to be opening again.
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Another Step for Schererville's Shops on Main

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In Schererville, officials have approved financing incentives for the eagerly-awaited Shops on Main. Construction could begin this Spring on the project at US 41 and Main Street which is expected to include high-end retail and restaurants, though details on what shops might be moving in have not yet been disclosed.
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New Gambling Plan Proposed

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A new gambling expansion plan is being proposed across the state line. The Illinois Senate is considering a measure calling for five new casinos including one in the south suburbs and Chicago, as well as Danville, Rockford, and Lake County, Illinois, and slot machines at horse racing tracks. It also sets up online gambling, called “i-gaming". The measure also includes a provision Illinois Ggovernor Pat Quinn has been seeking -- a ban on political contributions from gaming interests. The bill passed an Illinois Senate committee and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.
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Gary Legislative Phone Updates Continue

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Gary city officials with this reminder -- every Thursday at 5:00p.m -Region time- until April 25th Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson invites you to call in for a legislative update – and you can ask questions, too . Gary state lawmakers Representatives Charlie Brown and Vernon Smith and Senator Earline Rogers will also be on the calls as their schedules permit.    The call-in number is toll-free (866) 320-4709.  The call-in number will remain the same each week but the access code will go up by one number each week. For March 7 the access code will be 281996. [ Last week's access code was 281995. ]
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Gary Man Accused of Buying Child for Porn

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In Hammond Federal Court, two Gary residents have been indicted on charges related to the purchasing of a child to produce pornography. The U-S Attorney's Office announced the indictment against 39-year-old Christopher Bour and 24-year-old Natisha Hillard Wednesday. The charges were filed as the result of an investigation by the FBI, the Indiana State Police, and Gary and Michigan City Police Departments.
From the US Attorneys Office:  Christopher M. Bour, 39, and Natisha Hillard, 24, both of Gary, Indiana, were charged in a five count Indictment alleging buying/selling, production of and possession of child pornography.  Bour is charged with one count of purchase of a child for production of child pornography, one count of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography featuring a minor under the age of 12.  Hillard is charged with one count of sale of a child by a parent for production of child pornography and one count of permitting a child by a parent to participate in the production of child pornography.  These charges were filed as the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Indiana State Police, the Gary Police Department and the Michigan City Police Department.  This case has been assigned to and will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jill Koster.
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Lake Coroner Thanks Public for Help

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Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey is thanking everyone who offered information in helping to locate family members of unidentified decedents at their facility. The Coroner says they had eleven unidentified decedents in mid-September 2012, but through information provided, seven have been identified through DNA and all but one are now at rest and reunited with family members.  The oldest case dates back to 2007.
News Release: CROWN POINT -- Coroner Merrilee D. Frey is grateful to the general public for their help in locating family members and providing information to assist in identifying decedents. Coroner Frey states, “Sadly, as of September 15, 2012, we had a total of eleven unidentified decedents in our facility. Seven have now been identified through DNA, as our Forensic Anthropologist and I have worked closely together on these cases. They have been returned to their loved ones. The oldest case dates back to 2007. All but one are now at rest and reunited with family members. Thank you for responding to our call for assistance to the general public. I am committed to resolving all of our unidentified cases.”
Recently, the Coroner’s office asked the general public for assistance in helping to locate family members for Vincent Demus. Within twenty-four hours we brought closure for his family. The general public was also instrumental in helping the Coroner’s office identify Sherell Clark, who had been missing for several months, bringing closure to her family members. Additionally, the general public was crucial in the bringing closure to the family members of Amy Ellington, a thirty-nine year old female who had been missing for several months.
In early 2012, Derrien Picket was discovered in Lake Station. He had been missing for one year. George Deliopoulos, Meidco/Legal Death Investigator on this case and a twenty-three year veteran of the Coroner’s Office states, ”Our team of professionals worked closely with family members to provide DNA which ultimately led to positive identification of Mr. Picket. Dr. Nawrocki, our Forensic Anthropologist, worked closely with the Coroner, to help the Picket family put the final piece of the puzzle together regarding his death. Coroner Frey’s leadership motivates us to further investigate open cases to help hurting families. ”
“Coroner Frey states,”The generous help of the citizens of Northwest Indiana has allowed families closure regarding their missing loved ones. It is the mission of our office to serve and support our families with the tragic loss of their loved ones.”
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Police: Expired Plate Uncovers Mobile Meth Lab

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Troopers say routine traffic stops aren't so routine anymore. Indiana State Police say they found an alleged active mobile meth lab inside a 1999 Kia after pulling someone over for an expired license plate near State Road 26 in Lafayette. All three of the occupants, ages 33, 35 and 38, from Lafayette, were booked into the Tippecanoe County Jail.
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House Committee Considers Anti-Meth Bill

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It would not require you to have a prescription, but a measure meant to fight methamphetamine would put stricter limits on how much cold and allergy medicine you could buy in a single year in Indiana. An Indiana House committee Wednesday discussed a proposal approved by the state Senate in February that would permit the purchase of about an eight months supply, based on the current state law's monthly limit. Current Indiana law contains one-day and thirty-day limits. Senate Bill 496 also prohibits anyone convicted of certain meth-related crimes from possessing ephedrine/pseudoephedrine without a prescription for seven years.
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Burned Business Looking for Bride in Alaska

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There's a bride-to-be in Alaska who doesn't know her wedding dress is gone. That's one of the stories to come out of a devastating fire that consumed a number of businesses housed in a century-old two-story brick building Monday in downtown Valparaiso, at Lincolnway and Michigan.  Anita's Alterations was one of those businesses – after being there 22 years, the owner Anita Hall tells us their customer contact information and the back ups were all lost -- and they're trying to reach everyone, including a bride-to-be who's thousands of miles away:
"Before Christmas I had a young woman bring in a beautiful bride's gown and she was leaving to go to Alaska for several months, would not be back until March for her wedding and left it with me in my care,  to alter and have ready for her when she got back. I do not have that young woman's name or family member's name of any sort. If anybody would know of someone that was coming back in March to get married from Alaska, we certainly would love to be able to get a hold of her and figure out what we could do to help her. "
Hall also tells us she's gotten a call from customers offering to donate wedding gowns:
"There have been one or two people that have called that have said that they have had things altered by me in the past years and have held on to them and if people are in need of a special wedding gown, in this case for instance, they would happy to offer this gown to them."
Hall says she's asking all her customers to call her regular business number to get in touch with her -- 219-477-5307.  She also says they are planning to be opening again.
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Donnelly says Military Suicides Has to Stop

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Washington, D.C. — Senator Joe Donnelly conducted a conference call with members of the Indiana media today to discuss military and veteran suicide prevention efforts.  Last year, more combat troops committed suicide (349) than were killed in combat in Afghanistan (229), and 43% of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who took their own life did not seek treatment beforehand.  The Reserve and National Guard force has also seen a rise in suicides. 
“This has to stop,” said Donnelly.  “Our fighting men and women bear an incredible burden on our behalf.  I’m focused on doing everything I can to ensure that every servicemember and veteran has the resources they need and knows where to go if they need help.”
Donnelly has highlighted the issue repeatedly in Senate Armed Services Committee hearings and plans to make the mental health care of our military men and women a top priority while serving on the committee.  To seek help, servicemembers, veterans, or anyone struggling with mental health issues can call 800-273-TALK (8255) 24 hours a day.
A fact sheet on the issue is available here.
 
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Video of Senator Donnelly raising the issue of military and veteran suicides in the Senate Armed Services Committee:
 Senator Hagel Confirmation Hearing (January 30, 2013)
SD—http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4372575
 
Sequestration Hearing (February 21, 2013)
HD— https://s3.amazonaws.com/sdmc-media.senate.gov/Donnelly/021213_DONNELLY_1_FTP.M2T
SD— https://s3.amazonaws.com/sdmc-media.senate.gov/Donnelly/021213_DONNELLY_1_FTP.MPG
 
DoD Civilian Leadership Confirmation Hearing (February 28, 2013)
HD— https://s3.amazonaws.com/sdmc-media.senate.gov/Donnelly/030513_DONNELLY_1_FTP.M2T
SD— https://s3.amazonaws.com/sdmc-media.senate.gov/Donnelly/030513_DONNELLY_1_FTP.MPG
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Two Gary Residents Indicted on Child Porn Charges

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The U.S. Attorney's Office in Hammond announced a five-count indictment was returned on Wednesday against two Gary residents charged with the buying/selling, production of and possession of child pornography. 39 year old Christopher Bour faces several charges, including one-count of purchase of a child for production of child pornography, while 24 year old Natisha Hillard is charged with one-count of sale of a child by a parent for production of child pornography and one count of permitting a child by a parent to participate in the production of child pornography. Both individuals were charged as the result of an investigation by the FBI, Indiana State Police, Gary Police, and the Michigan City Police Departments.
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Read more: Two Gary Residents Indicted on Child Porn Charges

   

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