Former Winamac resident charged in federal court with theft of Cass County walnut trees

Last Updated on July 26, 2015 by cassnetwork

Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Swaim announced Friday the indictment of Cheyenne Allen, formerly of Winamac, on federal theft charges.

Federal court documents indicate that Allen has been federally indicted on two counts of theft and one count of selling stolen property, in violation of  Title 18, United State Code, Section 1341, 1343, 3372 and 3373. In August 2013,  a warrant was issued for Allen’s arrest on one Cass County charge of theft; that charge will now be dismissed as the U.S. Attorney’s Office will handle the prosecution.

State court documents indicate that in the spring of 2011, Allen signed a contract to purchase property in Cass County consisting of 20 acres of woodland. Allen made a down payment of $500 but never completed the purchase. Mr. Allen harvested walnut trees located on the property without owning the property and then left the state of Indiana.

After being charged in Cass County, he failed to return to Cass Superior Court 2 on Sept. 5, 2013 as he was ordered and his bond was revoked and forfeited.

Because the owner of the property was located in California and because Allen allegedly committed the thefts and sale by means of interstate commerce, federal authorities had jurisdiction to prosecute the case. The federal indictment was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, in the South Bend division. The federal warrant was unsealed after Allen was located and arrested in Kentucky in July 2015.

Cass County Prosecutor Lisa Swaim commented “This is a very serious loss for the victim and our county. The probable cause affidavit alleges that over $80,000 worth of timber was cut and stolen from the property. We are happy to partner with Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold Cheyenne Allen accountable.”

An information or indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

SOURCE: News release from Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Swaim