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Press Release

Four People Sentenced In A Conspiracy To Obstruct Justice Near Storm Lake, Iowa

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

Three men and one woman have been sentenced for their roles in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Mark Hill, age 48, of Storm Lake, Iowa, was sentenced after an August 13, 2013, guilty plea; Brandon Hinesly, age 36, of Truesdale, Iowa, and Janelle Zoch, 48 of Storm Lake, Iowa, each received their prison terms after February 28, 2014, guilty pleas; and Darwin Lee Zoch, age 46, of Storm Lake, received his prison term after a March 3, 2014, guilty plea.  Mark Hill, Brandon Hinesly, Janelle Zoch and Darwin Lee Zoch each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

Evidence at the guilty pleas and sentencings revealed Janelle Zoch, Darwin Zoch, Mark Hill, and Brandon Hinesly reached an agreement to illegally obstruct and impede the due administration of justice.  Darwin Zoch, who was then awaiting sentencing for his federal firearms conviction, with the help of his confederates, was able to abscond, fleeing all the way to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he had purchased a boat and planned to sail out of the United States.

Collectively, the coconspirators assisted Darwin Zoch by lying to federal agents and United States Probation Officers, concealing or destroying evidence, providing Darwin Zoch with comfort and support in the form of false identification and a phone, and helping him change his appearance and pre-position a vehicle to make his escape.

Hill was sentenced on April 3, 2014; Hinesly and Darwin Zoch were sentenced on July 9, 2014, and Janelle Zoch was sentenced on November 3, 2014, in United States District Court in Sioux City, Iowa by United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett.  Hill was sentenced to 3 months’ probation, Hinesly was sentenced to 3 months’ imprisonment, Darwin Zoch was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment, to be served consecutive to an undischarged term of imprisonment in the Northern District of Iowa, Case No. 11-4031, and Janelle Zoch was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment.  Hill, Hinsely, Darwin Zoch and Janelle Zoch were each ordered to pay a $100 special assessment.  Brandon Hinesly and Darwin Zoch must each serve a one-year term of supervised release after prison.  Janelle Zoch must serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Hill, Hinesly, and Janelle Zoch were released on the bonds previously set and each are to self-report to the Bureau of Prisons; Darwin Zoch is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

Court file information is available at  The case file number is 13-3047.

The case was investigated by the United States Marshal’s Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Office, the Storm Lake, Iowa Police Department, and the Iowa Department of Public Safety.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild            

Updated February 19, 2015