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First Operation Double Trouble Defendant Sentenced



JASPER (Local Sources) – On June 4, 2015, local law enforcement officers began serving arrest warrants for drug dealing offenses stemming from an investigation known as “Operation Double Trouble.” In total, in 2 rounds of arrests, 18 individuals were served with arrest warrants for drug dealing charges in Dubois and Spencer Counties.

Bryce Sadler, 24, Jasper, was the first Operation Double Trouble defendant to enter into a plea agreement and be sentenced yesterday in the Dubois County Superior Court. Sadler entered into an agreement with the Dubois County Prosecutor’s Office that called for him to plead guilty to Dealing in Methamphetamine, a Level 5 felony, and serve 2 years at the Indiana Department of Correction. The agreement called for this sentence to run consecutive to a 180 day sentence that Sadler is currently serving at the Dubois County Security Center for Possession of Paraphernalia and Carrying a Handgun Without a License, both Class A misdemeanors.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Beth Sermersheim stated that this Operation will differ in the length of jail sentences that will be handed down to the defendants. Thus far, in Operation Big Brother, Defendants have received a total of 141 years in sentences, with 113 of those years served in jail. Ryan Groeschen, 34, Ferdinand, is the most recent Operation Big Brother defendant to enter into a plea agreement. On August 11, 2015, Groeschen entered into a plea agreement with the Dubois County Prosecutor’s Office that called for him to plead guilty to Dealing in a Schedule III Controlled Substance, a Class B felony, and be sentenced to 12 years, with the first 8 served at the Indiana Department of Correction, followed by the last 4 on Work Release.

Sermersheim stated that due to changes in the Indiana Criminal Code in July 2014, drug dealing offenses are punished much less harshly. Many of the offenses charged as part of Operation Double Trouble are Level 5 felonies, which are only punishable by a sentence of 1 to 6 years. Under the old criminal code, most dealing offenses were classified as Class B felonies, which were punishable by a sentence of 6 to 20 years.

Sermersheim stated that it’s unfortunate that we no longer will be able to hand down lengthy sentences for drug dealing offenses. Under the old code, offenders also were considered to be “minimum non-suspendable” if they had certain prior felonies, meaning that they were required to serve the minimum sentence either in jail, on work release, or on home detention. Under the new code, the minimum non-suspendable rules still exist, but drug offenders are specifically excluded from those rules. This means that on a Level 5 dealing offense, the Court has the discretion to sentence someone to as low as 1 year on probation. Sermersheim stated that the legislature made these changes in an effort to reduce the prison population. She believes that we likely will see an increase in the presence of drugs and drug dealing in our community due to these changes.

However, Sermersheim and Narcotics Officer Anderson plan to continue their large scale operations, and have already started their third operation. They hope that the legislature will change the criminal code in the future to reinstitute harsh penalties for drug dealing offenses.

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