Andrew Fenwick indicted on federal charges
A Putnam County reserve deputy is facing federal charges for public corruption in connection with accusations against another county deputy.
Andrew Fenwick, 24, of Greencastle, is accused of providing false testimony during the federal investigation of suspended deputy T.J. Smith.
Smith is charged with excessive force in four incidents and is awaiting an April 28 trial in federal court.
U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett and the Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Indianapolis Division, Robert A. Jones, announced the arrest Tuesday morning.
A federal grand jury indictment, unsealed Tuesday, charges Fenwick with three counts of false declarations made by Fenwick before it. The indictment alleges that Fenwick provided false testimony during an investigation into Smith's alleged activity.
The grand jury indictment alleges that Fenwick provided material false statements with respect to:
-- The degree to which Fenwick used force to assist Smith in the apprehension of an individual near Moore's Bar in Greencastle on Nov. 6, 2011;
-- Whether Fenwick had seen a police report prepared by Smith concerning Smith's use of force against another individual at the Cloverdale Truck Stop on Dec. 28, 2013, and;
-- Whether the victim of Smith's use of force at the Cloverdale Truck Stop had struck Fenwick with a closed first before Smith used physical force against this individual.
Andrew Fenwick, aka "Mo", is the son of Putnam County Sheriff Steve Fenwick.
In United States District Court Tuesday afternoon, Fenwick made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Craig McKee.
Represented by attorney Bill Smock, Fenwick waived formal arraignment as well as the official reading of his charges.
McKee explained that, if convicted, each charge carries with it a prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000 and supervised release of up to three years.
Although Fenwick was arrested by FBI agents Tuesday morning and was in custody for the hearing, Deputy United States Attorney Bradley Blackington did not request further detainment, saying Fenwick did not meet the standards for remaining in custody.
"These charges do not involve violence and we don't think he's a flight risk. He's a lifelong member of the community," Blackington said in the press conference preceding the hearing.
Fenwick was released following the hearing, with a number of conditions, including meeting with a federal pre-trial services officer, retaining or seeking employment, remaining in the Southern District of Indiana, no contact with victims or other witnesses, no drug or excessive alcohol use and no possession of firearms or dangerous weapons.
While the final condition would have been problematic to Fenwick's role as a reserve deputy, it is no longer an issue, as he has not been on the force since mid-March.
Sheriff's department Chief Deputy Tom Helmer told the
Banner Graphic Tuesday evening that Fenwick was removed from the reserves shortly after Smith's indictment.
A problem arose when Fenwick defended Smith on his Facebook page, behavior that upset some other deputies. Helmer advised that Sheriff Fenwick, not wanting the dissension, removed his son from the reserves at that time.
In further court proceedings, McKee said a trial date of June 16 had been set with Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson presiding. However, this date is subject to change.
The state has requested that the trials of Smith and Fenwick be presided over by the same judge. Since Smith's Monday, April 28 trial is scheduled for Judge William Lawrence, one of the trials is likely to have a new date in front of a different judge.
Speaking to the media before the hearing, Hogsett and Blackington shared some insight on how the case against Fenwick came about.
"Just one month ago, I was here discussing the conduct of a Putnam County Sheriff's deputy involving allegations of the mistreatment of citizens in his custody," Hogsett said. "Interfering with an investigation will not be tolerated by this office and we will hold those who do so, fully accountable.
"These charges allege that Mr. Fenwick chose to lie rather than assist authorities as they investigated allegations of excessive force by a law enforcement officer who has taken an oath to 'serve and protect.'"
Hogsett praised the work by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI is a leading partner in the U.S. Attorney's Public Integrity Working Group, which was launched in April 2012 with the stated purpose of aggressively investigating allegations of misconduct and wrongdoing by public officials in Indiana.
Asked what effect the charges against Fenwick had on the Smith case, Blackington said the effect was limited, as Fenwick's alleged lies were in support of Smith.
"I believe that our case against Terry Smith has been charged. The investigative phase is done and we're ready to go to trial," Blackington said. "This indictment wasn't sought to strengthen our case against Smith. I think our case against Terry Smith remains the same as it did before this indictment."
When questioned if the arrest of two sheriff's department officers should cause alarm for the citizens of Putnam County, prosecutors sent mixed signals.
"I think it depends if you look at it as the glass being half empty or the glass being half full," Blackington said. "What I would say is there were a lot of police officers and deputies in this case who came forward, told the truth, cooperated with the investigation. Now we have a situation where there's one deputy who's been charged with excessive use of force, one that's charged with perjury. That type of conduct's unacceptable, but if you look at the conduct of other law enforcement officers who stepped forward and did the right thing, that's highly commendable."
Hogsett followed with a slightly contradictory comment.
"It's not unusual for me to talk about, in many of these public integrity prosecutions, a culture of corruption. I'm not saying that one exists here, but typically, corrupt people tend to gravitate toward corrupt people," he said.
From the sheriff's department perspective, Helmer said they had not been aware of the specifics of the investigation, but knew more information had been subpoenaed in recent weeks. He said he believed the FBI is still investigating.
At the close of the press conference, asked if there were any further connections in the department, Blackington was noncommittal.
"We don't have any comment about the investigation as it would proceed beyond these two indictments," Blackington said.