U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Southern District of Indiana
Southern District of Indiana
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney
Contact: Timothy M. Horty
Hogsett Keeps Promise to Greene County
Federal Gun Charges Filed on Linton, Indiana Man
INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney, announced that a federal grand jury in Indianapolis today charged Brandon Criss, 28, Linton, Ind., with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, following an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The charges stem from an incident on July 14, 2011, in which Criss is alleged to have fired a sawed-off shotgun near the parking area of Goose Pond State Park located near State Road 59 in Greene County. Pellets from the shotgun blast struck and injured a nearby park visitor, who was loading a kayak onto his car. Despite his injuries, the visitor was able to drive to the nearby Linton Police Department, where he reported the shooting to authorities.
Based on the description provided by the injured park visitor, Greene County Sheriff’s deputies and Indiana Department of Natural Resources rangers responded to Goose Pond and quickly located Criss, attempting to make his getaway riding a stolen bicycle. As deputies and park rangers approached, Criss threw a backpack he was carrying into a nearby field. The backpack was recovered and determined to contain a New England Firearms, 20 gauge shotgun.
At the time of his arrest, Criss appeared to be under the influence of an unknown controlled substance and was transported to the Greene County General Hospital prior to being taken to the Greene County Jail. At the jail, Criss admitted he had shot the gun at Goose Pond, but claimed he did not realize there were park patrons in the parking lot.
Inspection of the shotgun from Criss’ backpack revealed the barrel of the weapon had been cut down to approximately 11 ½ inches, making it a sawed-off or
short-barreled shotgun under federal law. Possession of such a weapon requires a special registration which Criss does not have. Authorities further determined that Criss was a convicted felon, making it unlawful for him to possess any firearm or ammunition under federal law. Specifically, on February 13, 2009, Criss was sentenced to two years imprisonment after being convicted of one count of intimidation and one count of battery on a law enforcement officer resulting in bodily injury, both class D felonies.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Rinka, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Criss faces a maximum of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. An initial hearing will be held before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Terre Haute in the near future.
An 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.