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Press Release

Three Storm Lake Area Residents Plead Guilty To Conspiring To Obstruct Justice

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

Janelle Zoch, age 47, and Darwin Zoch, age 45, both of Storm Lake, Iowa, and Brandon Hinesly, age 35, of Truesdale, Iowa, have pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, Iowa, to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.  Janelle Zoch and Brandon Hinesly pled guilty on February 28, 2014.  Darwin Zoch pled guilty on March 3, 2014.  Mark Hill, age 48, of Storm Lake, Iowa, also pled guilty on August 13, 2013 to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice,

Information presented by the United States at the plea hearings revealed that on May 19, 2011, Darwin Zoch was arrested on a warrant for allegations that he was a felon (and an armed career criminal) in possession of firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (and 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)).  On May 19, 2011, Darwin Zoch appeared before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Paul A. Zoss for an initial appearance and arraignment.  On May 19, 2011, Darwin Zoch was released on a personal recognizance bond, and conditions of pretrial releases were imposed. 

Darwin Zoch was also on State of Iowa probation at the time and was, thereby, required to wear a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) monitoring system bracelet, and was subject to an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily curfew.

On November 16, 2011, Darwin Zoch was convicted after a jury trial of being a felon (and an armed career criminal) in possession of firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (and 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)).  On November 16, 2011, Darwin Zoch was released by the trial judge, to await sentencing upon the same conditions of release as were imposed earlier while Darwin Zoch awaited his November 2011 trial. 

Instead of awaiting sentencing as he promised the court, Darwin Zoch, and  Janelle Zoch, Brandon Hinsely, Mark Hill and others plotted Darwin Zoch’s flight from justice.  They, among other things, researched countries without extradition treaties, boats he might buy to sail out of the country, obtained and pre-positioned a getaway car at his parent’s farm, acquired mobile phones with which to communicate secretly, and assembled more than $5,000 in cash.  Then they executed the plan, and Darwin Zoch escaped as far as a marina in Corpus Cristie Texas, where he was captured.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Janelle Zoch, Brandon Hinesly and Mark Hill remain free on bond previously set; Darwin Zoch remains in custody of the United States Marshal;  Janelle Zoch, Darwin Zoch,. Hinesly, and Hill each face a possible maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, $100 in special assessments, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

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

            The case was investigated by the United States Marshal’s Service; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Sheriff and Deputies of the Buena Vista County Sheriff=s Office, and Officers of the Storm Lake, Iowa Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.
Updated February 19, 2015