The Starke County Prosecutor’s office has brought two cases against John Belork, a cattle rancher in Davis Township.
Separate felony counts of Criminal Trespass and Criminal Mischief were filed in September and November of this year. Belork is accused in both occasions of allowing his cattle to wander onto his neighbor’s property. The prosecutor’s office says the felony charges stem from a state statute designed to target agricultural institutions.
The adjacent landowners were the subject of a recent Appellate Court decision. During that case, Belork attempted to invoke the state of Indiana’s right-hand rule which could require neighboring property owners to split the cost of constructing a fence to enclose livestock. The Appellate Court re-affirmed an earlier trial court decision denying Belork’s request.
In the criminal case from September, Belork has posted bond of $1-thousand, and has pleaded not guilty in the case. The second instance happened too recently to accept a plea in Starke County Circuit Court. Belork, however, has posted a $5-thousand bond in that case.
According to the Starke County Prosecutor’s office, Belork’s cattle allegedly caused thousands of dollars in damages to the grain on neighboring land by trampling on the produce, or simply eating it.
If convicted, Belork could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison; in addition to thousands of dollars in fines. Both felony counts allow for a recommendation of up to 2.5 years behind bars.
No future court date has been scheduled for Belork at this time.