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Judge denies bond reduction for 3 charged in synthetic marijuana raids

In fact, bond was increased on one defendant when investigators found millions in assets in a safe deposit box.

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 3:24 p.m.

ELKHART — A judge on Thursday denied bond reductions for three of the 11 people arrested in Elkhart County raids last month, citing pending removal proceedings against the defendants by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Gurcharn Singh, Jaswinder Kaur and Gurpreet Singh each appeared in separate hearings for their bail reduction requests before Elkhart Superior Court 3 Judge George Biddlecome in the courtroom at the Elkhart County Jail on Thursday, July 10.

The three defendants were arrested on June 9 during several raids on Elkhart and St. Joseph County businesses suspected of selling synthetic marijuana. Police arrested 11 people in Elkhart County and nine in St. Joseph County.

Gurpreet Singh, 21, with the help of an interpreter on speakerphone, asked Biddlecome to lower his $500,000 bond so he could get out of jail to sort out a pending immigration case against him.

Singh is charged with dealing a synthetic drug or lookalike substance, a class C felony; money laundering, a class D felony; and corrupt business influence, a class C felony.

Biddlecome denied the motion to reduce bond, citing concerns over Singh’s possible deportation in the immigration case.

Jaswinder Kaur, 37, also faces charges of dealing in a synthetic drug or lookalike substance, money laundering and corrupt business influence. Her bond had originally been set at $500,000, but was raised to $5 million after investigators located a safety deposit box containing $2.2 million in cash and gold belonging to her and Gurcharn Singh, said defense attorney Sharon Bilbrew.

Bilbrew said Kaur and Gurcharn Singh, who were married in a religious ceremony but are not legally married, have strong ties to the community and “have been good people in the community.”

Kaur’s family and friends raised money for Kaur’s bond so she could be with her three children, who are 14, 13 and 12 years old, but the state raised her bond just after the original amount was posted, Bilbrew said.

Elkhart County Deputy Prosecutor Katelan Doyle asked the court to deny Kaur’s motion because she faces the possibility of deportation in an ongoing immigration case and because Kaur’s home in Granger remains under seal by the Elkhart Police Department and Elkhart County ICE unit, leaving her without a place to stay.

Gurcharn Singh, who is also held at the jail on $5 million bond for charges of dealing in a synthetic drug or lookalike substance, money laundering and corrupt business influence, was also denied a bond reduction on the same grounds.

"I am willing to revisit the bond issue if the issue with immigration is resolved," Biddlecome said. "I’m not promising anything, but I’ll revisit it."

All three defendants are scheduled to appear in court again for pretrial conferences on July 31, according to court records.


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