Wabash Monon Bell pranksters sentenced to post-game clean-up
Wabash students try to steal the Monon Bell
Courtesy DePauw University and WRTV 6
The four Wabash College students who tried to steal the Monon Bell from its display case on the DePauw University campus will be experiencing a little more of the rivalry atmosphere than they bargained for.
The four men, including the Little Giants’ football team placekicker, Schuyler Nehrig, 19, Greenfield, made an appearance in court Friday.
Their punishment will be helping with clean-up of the wretched refuse left behind by the 8,500 spectators expected at Blackstock Stadium in Greencastle for the Nov. 11 football game.
Putnam County Prosecutor Timothy Bookwalter executed a pretrial diversion with all four suspects -- Nehrig, who was already punished by the Wabash football team by being suspended for one game; Aaron Scott, 21, Roanoke; Mason Owen Simmons, 18, Fort Wayne, and Brendan McCoy, 19, Indianapolis.
During the incident, Nehrig, Scott and Simmons were actually inside the Lilly Center, while McCoy was outside in the getaway truck.
Bookwalter explained that all four have a no-trespass order in place with DePauw that can be lifted next week for the Monon Bell Game and the clean-up detail provided the foursome request that in writing through DePauw Athletic Director Stevie Baker-Watson.
Even how the lawyers line up for the suspects in this case was intriguing.
There’s an attorney named Bell and another who once helped steal the iconic symbol in 1998.
“I didn’t think it could get any better,” one DePauw official said after the initial hearing in a story that already involved students wearing Obama and Trump masks and white coveralls.
Nehrig faced the first initial hearing of the morning before Putnam Superior Court Judge Denny Bridges with Raeanna Spahn appearing on his behalf in place of legal counsel Chris Eskew, ironically a former DePauw football player.
Scott, meanwhile, was represented by former DePauw swimmer turned attorney, the aptly named for this court case -- James Bell.
Mario Massillamany, who once participated in the theft of the Bell as a Wabash student, represented Simmons, while McCoy had no legal counsel in court Friday. He is represented by Jim Ayres but was assisted through the process by Bookwalter.
Massillamany praised Bookwalter for how the prosecutor handled the case in which none of the four went to jail.
“I think Tim did a great job,” he said. “I’m glad the prosecutor took great strides in making sure they were penalized but their futures were not ruined.”
Each of the four signed the pretrial diversion which means the misdemeanor charge will be stricken from their records if they comply with the stipulations of the agreement like staying out of trouble and away from alcohol for the six-month period.
“At their 25th and 50th reunions they’re going to be folk heroes,” Prosecutor Bookwalter predicted.
On Nov. 11, the four men must meet at the southeast gate, or Wabash entrance, by 4:45 p.m. or 10 minutes after the completion of the game, whichever is later. They will be under the supervision of the Wabash dean of students.
On Oct. 19, the four Wabash students -- three dressed in white jumpsuits, one in a Donald Trump mask and two in Barack Obama masks -- were caught after entering the Lilly Center, unbolting the Bell from its display stand and wheeling it out of the building where a fourth student waited with a pickup truck.
What the foursome didn’t know is that the Bell was equipped with a pressure-alarm sensor, which as soon as the prized Bell was moved sounded an alarm at DePauw dispatch.
Scott, Simmons and Nehrig reportedly hid under the bleachers in the Lilly Center for six hours in their effort to etch their names into Monon Bell lore.
The would-be thieves had the Bell off its resting place in less than three minutes but nearly dropped the 300-pound Monon Railroad relic in trying to set it down on the furniture dolly on the floor.
The Monon Bell Game, the oldest, continuous football rivalry west of The Alleghenies, will continue its series that began in 1890 with the 124th edition on Saturday, Nov. 11 in Greencastle. Kickoff is at 1:07 p.m.