07/05/13 Stephanie Berg, 39, of Knox was sentenced Wednesday in Marshall Superior Court No. 1 to 20 years imprisonment for manufacturing methamphetamine. In open court, Berg admitted that on February 15, 2013, she along with several other persons were cooking pseudoephedrine based products into methamphetamine at the Country Place Apartments on West Madison Street in Plymouth. The property is a family housing complex and is immediately adjacent to a public park, both factors of which enhance the seriousness of the offense to a Class A felony. Berg, through a plea agreement, plead to a Class B felony, and received the maximum sentence allowed under the law, 20 years.
Judge Robert O. Bowen approved an agreement reached between Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Nelson Chipman and defense attorney Douglas N. Hite, which provided for a sentence at the Indiana Department of Corrections of 20 years of imprisonment. Based upon Ms. Berg’s continuing cooperation in related drug cases, eight years of the sentence was suspended. Upon her release from prison, Berg will be on reporting probation for a year. She is expected to testify truthfully for upcoming trials with others charged in the same incident.
The case began when the manager of Country Place Apartments saw an individual enter an apartment to whom a “No Trespass Order” had previously been issued and was on file with the Plymouth Police Department. Officer John Weir and Corporal Ray West of the Plymouth Police Department responded to the second floor apartment, and immediately detected a strong odor of ammonia. They also noticed that on a bitterly cold day the windows to the apartment were open.
After knocking on the door, the officers could hear the screams of a young child. Eventually the door was opened and the smell of ammonia became stronger, almost overpowering, and the room air had a cloudy tint. The officers entered the apartment and saw two young female children, later determined to be 2 and 5 years of age standing at the end of a hallway with Stephanie Berg. They were not Berg’s children, but another female that was in the apartment. Eventually, Plymouth Ambulance arrived at the scene and took the two children to the emergency room at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center to be decontaminated and custody transferred to the Department of Child Services
Officer Weir soon found the individual against whom the “No Trespass Order” had been issued and took him into custody. At the same time, no less than four individuals jumped out of the second floor windows and ran in different directions. Two of the four escaping individuals were almost immediately apprehended by quick acting Plymouth Police officers who had been called to the scene for assistance. The remaining individuals in the apartment were also put under arrest. A total of 10 adults were either arrested or identified for having a part in the production of meth.
A search warrant was prepared, submitted to and approved by Judge Curt Palmer later that day. One of the rooms in the apartment was locked requiring the necessity of kicking in the door. Within that particular room was an active methamphetamine lab and almost 6 grams of finished methamphetamine product. In addition, numerous parts of a methamphetamine lab were found on or near the individuals who jumped out the windows and were later apprehended. Other rooms in the apartment also contained drug paraphernalia including numerous syringes and used pipes. Later, a key was discovered in the back seat of State Police Trooper Jason Faulstich’s police car. This was the same seat occupied by Stephanie Berg as she was transported to the Marshall County Jail. Although Berg denied any knowledge of the key, it was later determined the key opened the lock on the door in the apartment in which the active meth lab was found. The key was instrumental in linking Berg to the active participation with the manufacturing operation.
Plymouth officers assisting at the scene included David Bacon, Shelley Cleveland, Jim Cox, Steve DeLee, Mark Owen, Ray West and John Weir. Indiana State Police assistance was provided by Jason Faulstich, Keith Bikowski, Ryan Lebo, Robert Leffert and Brandon McBrier.
Chipman credited all the officers for their quick reaction and assistance in apprehending the suspects in a rather chaotic scene with people jumping out of second floor windows and running in all directions. Chipman also noted the value the “No Trespass Order” played in the case. “That simple step by the management of Country Place Apartments gave the authority when assistance was requested for law enforcement to take action to close down a lab, apprehend several meth cooks, and take custody and protect two very young girls who could not protect themselves. Instead of turning their back and ignoring the situation, the manager of Country Place fought back to protect its right to be free from this scourge; they too are to be commended.”