A man who admitted selling heroin to a girl whom he met at the Chesterton
skate park has been sentenced to six years in prison.
On Tuesday, Joseph T. Draus, 33, a resident of the 1500 block of Westchester
Ave. in Chesterton, was sentenced to 10 years in the Indiana Department of
Correction (DOC), four of those years suspended.
Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper also sentenced Draus to four years on
formal probation following his release from DOC.
Draus, who was originally charged with dealing in a narcotic drug, filed as
a Class A felony punishable by a term of 20 to 50 years, later agreed to
plead guilty to a Class B felony, punishable by a term of six to 20 years.
Four other charges against him—contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a
Class C felony; and maintaining a common nuisance, dealing in marijuana, and
possession of paraphernalia, all Class D felonies—were dismissed as part of
his plea agreement.
In her sentencing order, Harper listed two aggravating factors in sentencing
Draus to six years in DOC: a history of criminal activity including six
prior unrelated misdemeanor convictions as well as four juvenile
adjudications, one of which resulted in his commitment to Boys School; and
Harper’s finding that “Imposition of probation would minimize the
seriousness of the crime in that (Draus) sold heroin to a 16-year-old girl.”
Harper also listed two mitigating factors: that Draus admitted his guilt;
and that, inasmuch as he “has custody of two minor children who live with
him,” incarceration would impose a hardship on family.
Draus was given a chance to avoid prison. In June, Harper gave him 60 days
to wean himself off heroin, with the understanding that, if he did, he would
be eligible for Drug Court, an intensely supervised treatment program
requiring frequent drug tests and court and probation appearances.
But Draus subsequently failed drug testing and was deemed not eligible.
The investigation into Draus began on Nov. 1, 2009, when a confidential
source (CS) advised agents of the Porter County Drug Task Force (DTF) that a
16-year-old girl of his acquaintance was planning to purchase heroin from
her Chesterton supplier and promised to purchase heroin for him as well, DTF
A surveillance operation was conducted by DTF, agents observed the girl
entering and exiting Draus’ residence, and—after the girl had delivered one
small packet of heroin to the CS and an undercover officer—a traffic stop
was executed by Chesterton Police in a previously coordinated arrangement.
When interviewed by Lt. Jeff Biggs of DTF, the girl identified her heroin
dealer as Draus and indicated that she had never used heroin before being
introduced to the drug by Draus, DTF said.
“The juvenile stated that she met Draus at the skate park in Chesterton,”
DTF said. “At the park Draus befriended her and began conversations about
drugs. He provided his phone number to her and told her to call if she ever
wanted to buy heroin.”
“A couple of weeks after she met Draus, the juvenile called him to inquire
about purchasing heroin,” DTF said.
“He directed her to his residence, where he sold her heroin,” DTF said.
“After she purchased her first amount of heroin, Draus showed her how to
smash it up with the bottom of a lighter. He then showed her how to line up
the crushed heroin and then snort it with a rolled up bill.”
“Since she has met Draus, she believes that she has been to his house on 10
different occasions to purchase heroin,” DTF said. “On every occasion, the
juvenile stated that Draus had her snort heroin in his house off the coffee
table in his bedroom.”
Draus was taken into custody on Nov. 2, 2009, and evidence recovered from
his bedroom “indicated heroin use” and a “small marijuana grown operation,”