COLUMBIA CITY — After a period of being away from court, Dr. James Hanus, 68, of South Whitley reappeared before Judge Douglas Fahl for a hearing.

Fahl called the case “significantly more involved,” than most cases, and asked for a status update.

Prosecuting Attorney D.J. Sigler concurred with the complex nature of the case. “The amount of discovery is enormous,” he said.

Some of the holdup in the case is from files currently being processed by the Drug Enforcement Agency in its Merrillville facility.

“There are thousands of files we need to review,” defense attorney Travis Friend said. Hanus’ next hearing is March 12, 2018, giving attorneys on both sides the opportunity to process through the immense load of files.

Police impersonator in Superior Court

Shilo Wilkerson, 38, of Columbia City, was arrested Nov. 14 after officers received a call about a man that, according to court documents, “identified himself as being with the police department.”

According to the report, Wilkerson told police “that he did talk to a woman near the Linvill building but that he didn’t remember telling her that he was a cop.”

Wilkerson is charged with impersonation of a public servant, a class A misdemeanor.

In other Whitley Circuit Court news

• Austin Murphy, 19, of Columbia City, received a two-year sentence in accordance with a plea agreement. Murphy is charged with possession of methamphetamine, a level 6 felony. Sigler was concerned with Murphy’s considerable substance abuse history, and Heuer echoed those concerns. Murphy will serve one year at the Whitley County Work Release facility and have one year on probation.

• Nathan Strange, 25, of Fort Wayne, asked for a bond reduction on charges of battery, pubic intoxication and disorderly conduct. “It’s a matter that rose out of a bar fight, so it’s a matter where he could avoid reoffending,” defense attorney Anthony Churchward said. Judge Rentschler took the issue under advisement and set his next hearing for Dec. 18.

• Ashley Julian, 29, and Connie Cox, 48, of Columbia City, pleaded guilty to one count of level 6 welfare fraud. In accordance with their plea agreement, the two will serve a 1.5-year sentence on probation.

• Jeremy Yost, 27, of Columbia City, goes to trial March 14, 2018, on a charge of level 5 battery in the presence of a minor. Darin Faroute, 29, of Fort Wayne also set his charges of dealing and possession of cocaine and narcotics to trial on April 17, 2018.

• Natasha Brunner, 28, of Columbia City, pleaded guilty to violating probation after testing positive for cocaine and alcohol Oct. 20 and being arrested for OWI Nov. 3. The remaining two years of her sentence were revoked, to be served at the county jail. Brunner will be screened for work release, and Heuer will consider the option after screening.

• Riley Benson, 24, of Columbia City, requested and received a sentence modification to work at the county work release facility for the remainder of his sentence. He is released in June 2020.

• Aaron Petelle, Jordan Langston, and Jordan Grubbs had their pre-trial conferences continued to later dates.