UPDATE: Two former Elkhart Co. corrections officers receive felony charges

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On Thursday, May 8, the Elkhart County prosecuting attorney filed criminal charges against two former Elkhart County corrections officers, Adrian J. Long and Aaron M. Vandekeere, for crimes related to their official duties and resulting from two independent investigations by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.

During April of 2014, corrections investigators with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department initiated an investigation into an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship between a female inmate and Adrian Long, who at that time was employed as an Elkhart County corrections officer.

According to court documents, an inmate reported the alleged relationship to Warden Lieutenant Stephanie Bigler. That inmate told Bigler she saw Long enter the cell of a female inmate who claimed she was having a sexual relationship with him.

Upon further questioning, the inmate told investigators she noticed Long looking at her while she was in the medical ward. She claimed she asked Long if he wanted to touch her; he then unlocked her cell and put his hands down her pants.

Long was eventually questioned about the relationship and confirmed that he entered the inmate's cell two times and touched her in a sexual nature, according to court documents.

Long resigned his position as a corrections officer.

As a result of the investigation, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has charged Long with Sexual Misconduct by Service Provider with Detainee, a Class C felony. A Class C felony is punishable by up to 8 years imprisonment. Long turned himself in and his bond is set at $20,000.00.

In a separate investigation in April 2014, corrections investigators with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department developed information alleging that a corrections officer was offering to smuggle contraband into the Elkhart County Correctional Facility.

During the course of the investigation, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance from the Elkhart County Interdiction and Convert Enforcement (ICE) Unit. Through the investigation the Sheriff’s Department determined that Aaron M. Vandekeere was the corrections officer alleged to be engaged in the smuggling of contraband.

According to the investigation, Vandekeere allegedly offered to smuggle into the jail two packs of cigarettes, a lighter and/or a cell phone in exchange for money. Vandekeere allegedly contacted an undercover officer via telephone and met with the undercover officer on April 17, 2014 to acquire the contraband and payment. This contraband was then allegedly passed to an inmate in the jail.

According to court documents, Vandekeere wore a beanie, aviator sunglasses and a black hoodie during each of the exchanges.

Additionally, on April 24, 2014 Vandekeere again met with an undercover officer who provided Vandekeere with an operational cell phone and phone card. The following day Vandekeere allegedly brought the phone into the jail without authorization and provided it to an inmate.

On April 25, 2014 Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department officers arrested Vandekeere, placing him into custody, and immediately terminated his employment as a corrections officer.

The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for Elkhart County has charged Vandekeere with one count of Trafficking with an Inmate, a Class C felony and one count of Trafficking with an Inmate, a Class A misdemeanor. Additional charges are under consideration.

Vandekeere faces up to 8 years on the C felony and up to one year on the Class A misdemeanor. Vandekeere’s bond is set at $25,000.00.

According to Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney Curtis T. Hill, Jr, “The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department acted swiftly and decisively upon learning of these accusations. I join with Sheriff Rogers in placing the highest priority on preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

Wednesday morning, Sheriff Brad Rogers held a press conference. However, Rogers would not directly comment about the former corrections officers.

Instead, Rogers told the media he would not tolerate fault in character or misconduct on his staff. He deferred the remainder of question to the prosecutor's office, which is handling the rest of the case.

Aaron M. Vandekeere
Adrian J. Long