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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hogsett Announces Another Conviction At Trial Of Felon In Possession

U.S. Attorney maintains relentless pursuit of illegal possession of weapons throughout Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS- Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today the conviction of a New Jersey man on federal firearms charges. Dennis N. VanHouten, 28, Point Jervis, NJ, was convicted at a bench trial in front of U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence for being a felon in possession of a firearm and for illegal possession of ammunition.

VanHouten was stopped by officers from the Brownsburg Interstate Crime Enforcement Team on Interstate 70 for a traffic violation. A computer check revealed that VanHouten was wanted on a violent sexual offender felony warrant out of Orange County, New York. Officers placed VanHouten under arrest and began a search of the vehicle.

Once inside the vehicle, officers located a green storage case that contained an SKS semi-automatic 7.62 x 39 caliber rifle. VanHouten is a convicted felon and may not legally possess a firearm. Officers also located a storage case with VanHouten’s name on it secured by four pad locks in the rear of his vehicle. The container was suspicious so the Indianapolis Metro Police Department (IMPD) Bomb Squad was summoned to insure the contents did not contain explosives. Officers and agents obtained a state warrant for the container and found 1900 rounds of ammunition for the rifle. Previously, VanHouten had been convicted of “criminal sex act 2” in Cayuga County, New York in 2011.

This prosecution comes as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Violent Crime Initiative (VCI), and is the result of a collaborative investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations, Criminal Investigations Division, Indiana State Police, Brownsburg Police Department, IMPD and the Orange County, New York Probation Department.

Announced in March of 2011, the Violent Crime Initiative represents a district-wide strategy to work with local law enforcement and county prosecutors to combat drug traffickers and criminals that use and carry firearms in their illegal activities. The VCI has produced a dramatic increase in the number of gun-related charges brought federally. In the year preceding the initiative, there were just 14 defendants charged with federal gun crimes by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In the nearly three years since, more than 314 defendants have been charged.

“Through our Violent Crime Initiative, and in working with our law enforcement partners here in Central Indiana, we’re sending a united message that illegally-armed felons will face the full force of federal law,” Hogsett added.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Gayle Helart, who is prosecuting the case for the government, VanHouten could face up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000.00 fine at sentencing. He remains in the custody of the United States Marshal’s Service. No sentencing date has been set.

Updated January 26, 2015