Trial of man connected to Kosciusko County Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine case begins

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Kevin Bronson (left) and Mark Soto (Photo supplied/Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department)

The Mark Soto trial is set to begin Tuesday.

Soto is a former Grace College professor and the second man indicted alongside former Kosciusko County Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine. He’s facing six felony counts– three for corrupt business influence and three for intimidation.

The Times Union reports the state has filed a motion to close a portion of the trial to the public because one of the state’s witnesses will testify about membership in a gang.

“Details of the witness’s gang involvement, membership and activity will expose the witness to credible, potential retaliation,”  explained Special Deputy Prosecutor Tami Napier.

Napier argues the proposed closure is “one of minimal intrusion.”

Special Judge Stephen Bowers set a hearing for an argument on the motion Tuesday before the trial begins.

Former martial arts instructor Kevin Bronson must testify against Soto as part of a plea agreement he made. Court documents indicate Bronson will invoke his immunity, meaning anything he says can’t be used against him in future court proceedings.

Soto is accused of engaging in “a pattern of racketeering activity” while raising money for Bronson’s martial arts gym Young Dragon Enterprises, as well as a purported book and movie deal about Bronson’s conversion to Christianity.

The Times Union reports that the gym closed and the movie and book were never made, and Bronson was later arrested on cocaine charges.

The indictment alleges Bronson and Soto threatened David Baker to get him to provide free legal services to get the book and movie deal made. Court documents show Soto is also accused of threatening Nate McLaurin for asking about Bronson’s superior in the Aryan Brotherhood.

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