Admitted dealer gets 3-year sentence

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HANCOCK COUNTY — The attorney for a Fortville resident told a judge Thursday that his client was dealing cocaine and prescription drugs to support his own addictions.

Carmel attorney David Seiter made the assertion while asking the judge to show 20-year-old John Kessler leniency. Kessler made a mistake, Seiter said; and he’s worked since then to turn his life around.

Kessler was arrested in June and accused of selling cocaine and prescription drugs in several deals orchestrated by police.

He pleaded guilty to drug dealing as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Thursday, a judge ordered that he serve a three-year sentence, spending two years on home detention and one year on probation.

Kessler was 19 when the drug deals occurred. From January to June 2018, police arranged to have a confidential informant buy drugs from Kessler at least three times, records show.

In the first two deals, Kessler sold a police informant prescription drugs that were classified as a schedule 4 controlled substance, according to court documents.

Investigators did not release details about the type or amount of the drug sold.

In the third exchange, Kessler sold the same informant a white rocklike substance, according to court documents.

The substance tested positive as cocaine, court documents state.

The investigation was a joint effort by the Greenfield Police Department and the Fortville Police Department.

Kessler pleaded guilty to one Level 5 felony of dealing cocaine. He’d also faced one Level 5 felony of corrupt business influence; and two Level 6 felonies of dealing a schedule 4 controlled substance.

At the time of his arrest, he had cocaine, other drugs, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his possession, police said. An additional case related to those allegations was filed against him in Hancock County Superior Court 2; it has not yet been resolved.

Kessler only started selling drugs to support his own drug use, Seiter said. He thought he could make some “side money by selling to his friends.”

One of those friends turned out to be the confidential informant who worked with police during the investigation, Seiter said.

But Kessler is working to improve himself, the attorney said.

Kessler has been on pretrial home detention since posting bond not long after his arrest, Seiter told Hancock Circuit Judge Scott Sirk. He’s done well under that kind of monitoring, and Seiter said he believed his client would do well serving a sentence that encompassed time on probation.

The sentence Kessler received — splitting time with two years on home detention and one year on probation — came at the recommendation of the county probation department. Deputy prosecutor David Thornburg called it generous and agreed with probation’s recommendation to put Kessler on home detention for a greater portion of his sentence.

The maximum sentence for the Level 5 felony count Kessler pleaded guilty to is six years; but state statue puts the advisory sentence at three years.

During the hearing, Sirk asked Kessler what his plans were for the future. The young man responded that he planned to return to school to study engineering or perhaps join the military. He wanted to keep moving forward, to get his life back on track, he said.

Sirk encouraged Kessler to keep working hard and make good decisions.

“This is a very serious thing you did at a very young age,” Sirk said. “I never want to see you here again.”