MICHIGAN CITY – The mayor’s stepson appeared via video conference from the La Porte County Jail for his arraignment in La Porte Superior Court 1 on Tuesday.
Adam Ross Bray, 33, was arrested Thursday on felony charges of possession of heroin, possession of cocaine, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon; as well as a misdemeanor count of resisting law enforcement.
The mayor claims the arrest was a set-up coordinated by the county prosecutor's office, a notion the prosecutor calls totally untrue.
According to the probable cause affidavit in the case, Bray was the passenger in a vehicle pulled over on Franklin Street near Meijer Drive around 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Michigan City Police Cpl. Kyle Shiparski, a member of the La Porte County Drug Task Force, writes that he and Cpl. Francisco Rodriguez observed a dark-colored Chevrolet Cobalt change lanes without signaling on Franklin Street just south of Larkspur Lane.
They activated their emergency lights, pulled the car over, and took the driver's license and registration back to their unmarked vehicle to issue a written warning, Shiparski said. He noted that Bray was in the passenger seat and not wearing a seatbelt.
While this was happening, Officer Michael Oberle and his K-9 partner, Axel, arrived to perform a “free air sniff” of the vehicle, resulting in the dog alerting them to the presence of illegal narcotics.
Shiparski reported that as Bray exited the vehicle to be searched, Officer Justin Frever said he’d observed Bray put something into his mouth, which he refused to open willingly despite having been physically detained by Shiparski and Cpl. Willie Henderson.
“As a struggle ensued, Adam continued to resist,” Shiparski writes. “Officer [Adam] Brinkman deployed 3 drive stuns utilizing his department-issued Taser. Adam continued to resist. And pressure was applied to the bottom of Adam’s nose and the bottom of his jaw.”
Shiparski said he extracted two plastic bags from Bray’s mouth – one open and containing a white, powdery substance; and the other tied with a knot and containing a light brown, “powdery/rocky” substance.
Bray was arrested on a charge of resisting law enforcement as a class A misdemeanor, and transported to the MCPD by Officer Deshone Harris.
Back at the police station, the contents of the bags obtained from Bray’s mouth reportedly tested positive for 0.1 grams of cocaine and 0.6 grams of heroin, which Shiparski said added the two Level 5 felony counts of possession of a narcotic to Bray’s charges.
Additionally, officers reportedly located a .40-caliber Taurus G2C handgun inside a backpack on the passenger floor near where Bray’s feet would have been, Shiparski writes, bringing about the Level 4 felony count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.
The latter charge is based on Bray’s 2011 conviction for dealing cocaine as a Class B felony, the affidavit states.
With just a warning ticket for failure to signal a lane change, the driver was allowed to leave the scene. Shiparski’s report does not indicate whether the man was searched.
In a statement issued Monday, Mayor Ron Meer questioned the circumstances surrounding the arrest, suggesting what might appear to have been a routine traffic stop was actually a set-up, strategically timed for just before the upcoming municipal election.
The mayor explicitly accused La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake, and his wife and chief of staff Mary Lake, of conspiring with a member of the Drug Task Force to orchestrate the arrest out of “political retaliation.”
“It was brought to my attention by a confidential informant that he was directed by the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office and a member of the drug task force to target my son,” Meer claimed in the statement issued Monday.
“It is no coincidence this is occurring just a couple of weeks before the election. It is also no coincidence that the confidential informant was driving the vehicle that was pulled over and he was not charged with anything.”
Although Meer did not identify the driver, police identified him in the probable cause affidavit.
John Lake addressed Meer’s claims in an interview with The News-Dispatch on Tuesday, and during a live interview on WIMS AM 1420 Tuesday.
“It’s all completely false,” the prosecutor said.
The driver wasn't charged, Lake said, because he was not found to have committed a crime.
As for the allegation he’d used a confidential informant to target Bray, Lake said he hasn’t spoken to a confidential informant regarding any case since 2017 when he was a deputy prosecutor. He also expressed concern over the fact that Meer may have had contact with a confidential informant.
“If he truly did speak to a confidential informant who is involved in this, that is really disturbing from the standpoint of – it’s confidential,” Lake said. “I don’t even know who this person is. … This is a situation where, how does the mayor get that information? … I’m really, really disturbed that the mayor would go after his police department for this, and attribute motives to it that are not correct.”
Lake declined to discuss the specifics of Bray’s case while it remains an open investigation. But he said that generally speaking, the police tactics employed during the traffic stop are common practice given La Porte County’s designation as a high-intensity drug trafficking area.
Although Lake indicated that a federal prosecutor has expressed interest in taking over Bray’s case, it is currently in La Porte Superior Court 1 before Judge Michael Bergerson.
Bray is scheduled to return for an omnibus hearing on Dec. 5, and a bail review hearing on Oct. 29. Until then, he remains in lockup on a cash-only bond of $20,000.
Should this remain a state case, Bray could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.