- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

PLYMOUTH, Ind. (AP) - A northern Indiana sheriff was indicted Monday on 10 felony counts, including bribery and official misconduct, alleging he accepted $40,000 to allow special privileges for a jail inmate and a visitor.

Kosciusko County Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine is accused of allowing unrecorded and unsupervised visitations and phone calls between the inmate and the visitor. Rovenstine did so “with the intent to hinder the punishment” of the inmate, the indictment stated.

The indictment also stated that Rovenstine threatened a law enforcement officer.

Rovenstine did not respond to an email and two phone messages from The Associated Press requesting comment Monday. Court records do not indicate whether he has hired an attorney.

Rovenstine, 56, is charged with three counts of bribery, one count of intimidation, one count of assisting a criminal and five counts of official misconduct. An Elkhart County Jail spokeswoman said Rovenstine was taken into custody shortly before noon Monday and released on $10,000 surety bond.

The indictment alleges the misconduct started in March 2011 and continued into August 2015.

The indictment alleges Rovenstine took the bribes from Kevin Bronson while he was an inmate at the Kosciusko County Jail. Bronson is charged with three felony charges of corrupt business influence and seven felony charges of intimidation. Also charged is Mark Soto, a professor at Grace College in Winona Lake, who faces three felony charges of corrupt business influence and three felony charges of intimidation.

The Warsaw Times-Union reported Soto served as a spiritual mentor and counselor to Bronson.

Soto and Bronson are accused of intimidating multiple men, including threats to beat or kill the victims and their families.

Marshall County Prosecutor E. Nelson Chipman Jr., who has been appointed as special prosecutor in the case, said at a news conference Monday that Soto has been arrested and that Bronson remains in custody after being arrested 14 months ago for possession of cocaine with intent to deal and criminal gang activity.

One victim was allegedly told Bronson would break his legs unless he gave Bronson money, and another man was forced to provide free medical services to Bronson under threat of a beating, the indictment states.

Bronson and Soto are also accused of threatening to beat or kill another man and his family unless the man provided legal services without payment to help them secure a movie or book contract, the indictment states.

A message was left Monday evening at the office of Soto’s attorney, David Kolbe.

Warsaw is about 40 miles northwest of Fort Wayne.

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