News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2007
Contact: Joanna Zoltay
Number: 312-886-2597

Five Indiana Men Indicted in Alleged Marijuana Conspiracy

Weapons and bricks of marijuana seized during Michigan City marijuana conspiracy investigation.

OCT 15 -- (South Bend, IN) – A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Indiana has indicted five Indiana men on alleged marijuana conspiracy charges. The indictments are the result of a long term investigation in the Michigan City and LaPorte County areas conducted by the Michigan City Drug Task Force, the DEA Merrillville Office, and the ATF. All five defendants were taken into custody following the seizure of a $250,000 shipment of marijuana that had been transported into Laporte County from the southwest border of the United States.

The two count indictment charges the defendants with Conspiracy to distribute over 100 kilograms of Marijuana (count one), and Possession with intent to distribute over 50 kilograms of marijuana (count two). Indicted are:

Randy Reed Lipscomb, 29, of LaPorte
Joshua Neitzel, 25, of Michigan City
Shawn Michael Fear, 33, of LaPorte
Eric Maurice Griffin, 35, of Michigan City
Lawrence Robert Wilke, II, 27, of LaPorte

The investigation began in January 2007 and revealed that the alleged members of the conspiracy were responsible for transporting marijuana with a street value of over $1million into the LaPorte County area from Mexico. In addition to multiple seizures of marijuana, 21 firearms, US currency, drug packaging materials, scales, a money counter, and 2 vehicles were seized from the organization. Also assisting with the investigation is the LaPorte County Chief Deputy Prosecutor and the Internal Revenue Service.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Grimmer. If convicted, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and a maximum of 60 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $3 million.  The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.