Three defendants face federal charges for illegally purchasing/possessing firearms used to kill area police officers
Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett and Terre Haute Police Officer Robert Pitts killed with firearms that were illegally purchased
Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh Minkler announced today that three individuals have been charged for their role in illegally purchasing/possessing firearms that were eventually used to kill two area police officers. The charges are a result of a violence reduction program initiated by the Department of Justice called Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).
Dawn Rochon, 29, Indianapolis, has been charged with eight counts relating to making false statements when acquiring a firearm. Tiffany N. Dean 33, West Terre Haute, faces charges of making a false statement when purchasing a firearm and her brother, Levi M. Brenton 20, Terre Haute, faces charges including conspiracy to make false statements when purchasing a firearm, possession of a firearm by an unlawful drug user and selling/giving a firearm to an unlawful drug user.
“When guns are purchased or possessed illegally, it is never for a good reason and the results are often tragic,” said Minkler. “We all continue to mourn the loss of Deputy Pickett and Officer Pitts and law enforcement must hold all those who contributed to their senseless death accountable. Those who ‘lie and buy’ guns will be prosecuted in federal court.”
According to court documents and testimony, Rochon allegedly made an illegal purchase of a 9mm handgun in February 2017, from a gun store in Indianapolis, making false statements on the purchase documents. The same gun is alleged to have been used to kill Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett in March 2018. The indictment further alleged Rochon made three similar illegal purchases of firearms.
Similarly in February 2017, Tiffany N. Dean is alleged to have purchased a 9mm handgun from a gun store in Terre Haute. Dean completed required paperwork for the purchase, indicating the gun was for her, when in fact the gun was being purchased for her brother Levi M. Brenton because he was “too young to buy it.” According to the criminal complaint, Dean and Brenton went to the gun store together to purchase the firearm and Brenton left the store with the gun in his possession. It is further alleged that Brenton then sold the gun for $350. That same gun was allegedly used in the killing of Terre Haute Police Officer Robert Pitts in May 2018.
“ATF remains committed to removing violent criminals from our communities, including those who provide firearms to individuals who are prohibited from having them,” stated Trevor A. Velinor, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “The lasting damage that gun violence does to our communities cannot be overstated. ATF will work tirelessly to address and combat gun violence perpetrated against our community and the men and women in law enforcement.”
In January 2018, Minkler introduced a violence reduction strategy called Project Safe Neighborhoods, specifically aimed at reducing the number of homicides and non-fatal shooting in both Indianapolis and Evansville. An Assistant United States Attorney is assigned to each IMPD District as well as working closely with the Evansville Police Department to prosecute individuals who illegally carry firearms. To date 117 PSN cases have been charged. Some of the most egregious include:
Franklin Fitzpatrick, 42, Louisville, charged in Evansville, two-time convicted felon actively engaged in methamphetamine distribution while in possession of three handguns.
Korrtel Filzen, 28, Indianapolis, convicted felon charged with brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and eight business robberies in Indianapolis.
Brennan Rogers, 48, Indianapolis, felon in possession of a 9mm handgun, 9mm tec-9 pistol and illicit drugs.
Anthony White, 20, and Brian York, 30, both from Indianapolis, charged with brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and robbing six Dollar General stores and a BP Gas Station
Lemontrae Bible, 24, Indianapolis, convicted felon on two separate drug-related charges in possession of loaded .22 caliber pistol.
These cases have been investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Lawrence Police Department, Speedway Police Department and the Evansville Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney who are prosecuting PSN cases include: Will McCoskey, Matthew Lasher, Kendra Klump, Pamela Domash, Peter Blackett, Jeff Preston, Todd Shellenbarger, Lauren Wheatley and Barry Glickman.
Attorney General Sessions has directed U.S. Attorneys from around the country to take the lead in results-oriented reinvigoration of Project Safe Neighborhoods. PSN is a collaborative approach to public safety to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safe for everyone. Indianapolis has a violent crime rate 2.5 times the national average and a homicide rate 4.5 times the national average. Minkler strongly believes aggressive prosecutions of the most violent criminals will be a catalyst to reduce the number of gun-related victims.
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the office’s firm commitment to partner with federal and local law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals committing violent crimes involving firearms. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan Section 2.3)