News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 9, 2013

Terre Haute meth trafficker gets life in prison

The Associated Press

TERRE HAUTE — Phillip Mannebach, 47, of Terre Haute, was sentenced to life in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker on Monday, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett.

This follows his jury trial conviction in late 2012, where he was found guilty of participating in a local methamphetamine trafficking organization, as well as helping to orchestrate the abduction of an individual.

“Throughout the investigation and prosecution of this criminal organization, we have reiterated our stance that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has zero tolerance for those who use guns to terrorize Hoosier neighborhoods,” Hogsett said. “Through our Violent Crime Initiative, we’re continuing to target these groups and bring an end to their deadly trade of drugs, violence, and illegally-possessed firearms.”

The sentencing is the culmination of a multi-year investigation and prosecution of a drug trafficking organization that operated in Indianapolis, and had extensive connections to a motorcycle club operating in Terre Haute. The meth trafficking organization operated from approximately May 2010 until the arrests of most of the members of the organization on Aug. 6, 2011, the news release said.

Mannebach, a member of the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club in Terre Haute, was convicted along with co-defendant Michael Pitts, 51, also of Terre Haute, of operating a meth distribution ring here. They would receive the drugs from James Taylor, a previously prosecuted member of the Sons of Silence motorcycle gang in Indianapolis, the news release stated.

In addition, co-defendants Travis Umphries and Dustin Coffey, “hang-arounds” with the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club, assisted Mannebach with the abduction of a person in Terre Haute on Nov. 1, 2010. The victim of the abduction had stolen approximately $5,000 in currency from Mannebach, who had obtained the money from meth trafficking activity. After realizing that the victim had stolen the money, Mannebach directed Umphries and Coffey to accompany him to a third person’s residence to abduct the victim.

Mannebach entered the residence, assaulted the victim with a firearm, and ordered the victim out of the residence at gunpoint. Mannebach directed Umphries and Coffey to transport the victim to Mannebach’s motorcycle repair garage on Maple Avenue in Terre Haute. Mannebach ziptied the victim to a chair in the bathroom of the garage until Nov. 3, 2010, when the victim located a Leatherman’s tool in the bathroom, cut the zipties, and fled the garage.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley A. Blackington, who prosecuted the cases for the government, a total of 12 defendants have now been convicted and sentenced as a result of what was known as “Operation Saw Mill.”