Dave Wheaton, news director for Federated Media’s WOWO-AM Ft. Wayne, IN was found in contempt of court 5/15 after he was found using a cellphone during the guilty plea hearing for admitted killer Michael Plumadore.
According to testimony by Allen County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Brian Sandberg, Wheaton had an Apple iPhone in his hand during the hearing Friday before Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck.
Sandberg said he and another officer saw Wheaton texting during the hearing. Sandberg confiscated the phone and issued Wheaton a ticket, ordering him to appear before Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull.
Cellphones and other electronic devices have been prohibited in the Allen County Courthouse complex since 2007. The ruling came after cellphone cameras were used to take pictures and videos of witnesses and jurors in a murder case, reported The Journal Gazette.
Under oath, Wheaton said he did not notice the multiple signs placed around the Courthouse announcing the ban. He said he brought the phone in along with his recording equipment and had done so the few other times he’d been in the building.
“Candidly, I don’t believe you,” Gull said of Wheaton’s claims he did not see the signs. So, he found him in contempt and ordered the phone destroyed. Gull allowed the company to remove the contents of the phone first. She also said she was sending a copy of the ruling to the station as a reminder.