Chesterton Tribune



Man being held on explosives charge a Lake County police officer on paid leave

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The Chesterton man charged with possession of a destructive device--found in his rented home after a fire on Jan. 1--is a Lake County Sheriff’s Police officer currently on paid leave.

Gary Pilipovich, 31, of 214 S. Calumet Road, was an eight-year veteran of the LCSP when he was arrested on multiple drug charges in Portage in June 2012. At the time Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said that Pilipovich had been suspended, as reported by the Associated Press. Today a LCSP public information officer told the Chesterton Tribune that Pilipovich is on “paid leave.”

In June 2012 Pilipovich was residing in an apartment on Reserve Drive in Portage when a contractor doing work in his residence observed “items and chemicals that may be used for making drugs,” according to the probable cause affidavit filed by the Porter County Drug Task Force (DTF). On June 8, 2012, DTF agents executed a search warrant at the apartment and found there, among other things, a tank labeled nitrous oxide, a pressure cooker with gauges, beakers, a hot plate with arms for vials, an air pump, and books about steroids.

Also found: two locked safes. A week later, on June 15, 2012, a Valparaiso locksmith opened those safes pursuant to a second search warrant. They were found to contain a quantity of powder, several different sorts of pills, and vials of liquid, the DTF stated in the affidavit. Those substances were forwarded to Great Lakes Labs for analysis.

By June 15, however, Pilipovich had already been arrested on three felony drug charges filed after a Portage Police officer, assisting with Pilipovich’s subsequent eviction from the apartment, observed “in plain sight” a bag of suspected marijuana. Another search warrant was issued and on June 12 officers found tablets of acetaminophen and hydrocodone bitrate, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and alprazolam--all schedule controlled substances--in an unmarked container in Pilipovich’s car, the PPD stated in its probable cause affidavit.

In addition, an “off-white rock-like substance” which field-tested positive for cocaine was found in a plastic bottle in the master bedroom’s closet, the PPD stated, as well as a hypodermic needle.

On June 14, Pilipovich was formally charged with possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a syringe, all Class D felonies. He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. It was after these charges were filed that the AP quoted Sheriff Buncich as saying that Pilipovich had been suspended.

Seven months later, in January 2013, Great Lakes Labs released to DTF its analysis of the evidence recovered from the two safes. The powder was identified as cocaine; a pink pill as methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or Ecstasy) and blue pills as amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Schedule II controlled substances); and two vials of yellow liquid as testosterone cypionate and a vial of white liquid as oxymetholone (Schedule III), DTF stated.

On March 7, 2013, Pilipovich was formally charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver; manufacture of a controlled substance, namely, steroids; possession of a cocaine; three counts of possession of a controlled substance; and maintaining a common nuisance. The two most serious of the seven charges--intent to deliver and manufacture--are both Class B felonies punishable by a term of six to 20 years.

A new drug charge was filed against Pilipovich following the fire in his rented home on South Calumet Road on Jan. 1: dealing in a schedule controlled substance, namely, Ecstasy, at least one gram of which, but fewer than five, was recovered at the scene, the Chesterton Police Department said.

The other new charge against Pilipovich--possession of a destructive device--was filed after two explosive compounds, ammonium nitrate and black powder, were found in his house, along with the following items, the CPD said: a wound cord resembling a length of fuse; “numerous metal bearings of differing sizes”; section of metal piping with attached and unattached caps; and a large section of PVC pipe.

The Chesterton Fire Department has determined the cause of the Jan. 1 fire to be electrical in nature.

The CFD also has said that, on Sept. 15, 2014, firefighters responded to Pilipovich’s home after smoke was reported there. There was no fire, however, Fire Chief John Jarka said at the time. Instead, Pilipovich advised that “a smoke bomb had gone off in the kitchen.”

Pilipovich was being held at the Porter County Jail on no bond.


Posted 1/21/2015




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