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Two jury trials to take place in March

By Audra Gamble/The Holland Sentinel • Mar 5, 2018 at 2:00 PM

UPDATE: The trial for Anuj Chopra was rescheduled to start on June 29. The trial for Leslie Chopra was also pushed back to July 24.

Two high-profile jury trials will take place this month in Ottawa County, along with another case heading closer to trial.

First on the court schedule is the jury trial of Jamestown Township resident Anuj Chopra. Chopra’s trial has been pushed back several times, but is currently set to begin Thursday, March 8, in front of Judge Karen Miedema.

Chopra and his wife, Leslie, have been accused of sex crimes involving minors. They met the alleged victim through their then-16-year-old daughter, a student at Hudsonville High School.

Chopra has been charged with violating Michigan human trafficking law after allegedly offering $100 to two 16-year-old boys to kiss, then $1,000 to have sex with each other while he filmed it, according to court testimony.

Leslie Chopra is accused of distributing obscene material to children and using a computer to commit a crime after allegedly sending sexually explicit Snapchats to one of the same 16-year-old boys. She will be tried separately in an April 24 jury trial.

These incidents took place around December 2016. At the time, the Chopras were already suspected to be involved in the circulation of nude photographs of a female student at the high school, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation into that matter is separate and ongoing.

Chopra is facing up to 20 years in prison and/or up to a $20,000 fine for his charge.

On March 19, a final pretrial conference will be held for 17-year-old David Pelon, who was named as an accomplice to a Holland Township man that has been accused of committing at least 12 break-ins and of burning down Graphix Signs & Embroidery in the fall. While the 48-year-old Holland Township man, Shane Wheeler, was charged with arson, Pelon is being prosecuted for two counts of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony.

Pelon was charged with two other counts of breaking and entering, but will not be prosecuted for those charges.

On March 27, Holland man Justin Demario Mason, 22, will appear for a jury trial about an armed robbery that took place in Holland Heights. He has been charged with two counts of assault with intent to rob while armed and one count of being in possession of a firearm while attempting to commit a felony relating to a March 29, 2017, incident.

Mason is suspected of approaching a 25-year-old man sitting in his car with a passenger in the 300 block of Stratford Way just before noon. Mason allegedly demanded items from the men in the car, then shot the driver in the chest with a handgun. The victim drove himself to Holland Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and released that same afternoon.

The victim’s passenger was not injured during the incident.

Mason is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison for the assault charges if convicted. A first-offense charge of being in possession of a firearm while attempting to commit a felony carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence.

For Mason’s three felony charges, his bail was set at $750,000 cash. He is currently lodged in the Ottawa County Jail.

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