Welfare fraud cases go to court

By Tyler Roebuck

troebuck@kpcmedia.com

COLUMBIA CITY — Mother and daughter Connie Cox, 48, and Ashley Julian, 29, appeared in Whitley County Circuit Court Monday before Judge Matthew Rentschler for two counts of level C felony welfare fraud and one count of theft, a level 6 felony.

Court documents allege that between June 1 and July 31, Cox and Julian continued receiving welfare support for Julian’s daughter, who had been removed from her custody. Cox and Julian failed to report the change in their household to Social Security.

The amount of money in the theft charge is between $750-$50,000.

If convicted, a class C felony carries a sentence between two and eight years, and a level 6 felony between 0.5 and 2.5 years.

Also in Circuit Court, Jeffery Mast, 26, of Syracuse, was sentenced in accordance with a plea bargain to five years at the Indiana Department of Corrections, with three years served and two suspended. Mast pleaded guilty battery causing bodily injury, possession of methamphetamine, resisting law enforcement and operating while intoxicated.

Mast led police from three counties on a high-speed case through Kosciuscko and Whitley counties in October 2016. During the pursuit, he rammed his vehicle into a detective’s cruiser, according to court documents.

“While I agree that he has a substance abuse problem, he also has a problem with driving his vehicle into police vehicles,” County Prosecutor DJ Sigler said.

Sigler said that he considered charging Mast with attempted murder, but did not pursue it.

Mast was sentenced to a total of 10 years, with the five from Whitley County, 4.5 years from Kosciuscko County and half year from Noble County. The five-year sentence handed down by Judge James Heuer is to be served consecutively.

In other Circuit Court news:

• Darlene Holley, Jesse Gensheimer and Katlynn Schrader failed to appear. Holley and Gensheimer have warrants for their arrest, while Katlynn Schrader was given a week, as she is pregnant and defense attorney Anthony Churchward was unsure if her absence was health related.

• Eric Bruner, 38, of Columbia City, pleaded guilty to dealing methamphetamine a level 4 felony. Bruner allegedly sold meth to an undercover informant on June 4. Bruner’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16.

• Brenda Bailey, 56, of Hudson, and Charles Sheets, 56, of Coldwater, Mich., combined their cases, as they were related to the same alleged event. The pair goes to trial Nov. 28 on charges of dealing in and possession of methamphetamine.

• Angela Tarlton, 41, of Pierceton, pleaded guilty to dealing meth, a level 4 felony. As part of her plea deal, Tarlton could serve a 12 year sentence, with 10 years executed and two suspended. Her sentencing hearing is Oct. 16.

• Christopher Haigwood, 44, of Columbia City, heads to trial Nov. 21 for the charge of failure to comply, a level 6 felony. Haigwood also received approval to help his mother move to Missouri.

• Kerry Rentschler, 46, of Fort Wayne, pleaded guilty to level 4 burglary. As part of the plea bargain, Rentshcler could serve a six-year sentence, with four executed and two suspended.

• Kristine Hart, Chadwick Sweet, Justin Enger, Charles Rector, Alec Wilkins, Chaise Belcher and Davey Prater had their respective hearings rescheduled to later dates.

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