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Woman pleads not guilty to theft in monument case

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The former owner of a Greencastle monument company appeared in court Tuesday where she pleaded not guilty to theft charges.

Angela Michelle Stark, 40, Crawfordsville, is accused of taking money from customers for headstones and then failing to place the orders with the company she contracted to make them.

Arrested at her Crawfordsville home on Monday, Stark said little during her brief hearing in Judge Robert Lowe's courtroom Tuesday morning, except to acknowledge the seven Class D felony charges being levied against her by Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter.

The judge told Stark that each count carries a possible three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Bookwalter said he is seeking a consecutive sentence for Stark, which would mean a maximum of 21 years in prison, if she is convicted on all counts.

She told the judge that she intends to seek her own attorney.

Stark is scheduled to appear in court again at 1 p.m. Nov. 20. She is currently being held at the Putnam County Jail on a $10,000 cash only bond.

Stark's activities first fell under suspicion about a year ago when the prosecutor's office began receiving complaints from customers who said they had given money to Stark but never got what they paid for.

At that point, Bookwalter turned over the case to Indiana State Police Det. Scott Stockton who works in the agency's white collar crimes unit.

In his probable cause affidavit, Stockton alleges that Stark pocketed nearly $20,000, beginning in 2003 when she opened her business until early 2005 when she filed bankruptcy.

Among the missing money is $10,000 from a headstone manufacturer where Stark allegedly placed orders for stones and never paid for them.

Police say Stark deceived her customers by telling them their stones had been lost or were not completed. Several victims told police they experienced emotional distress as a result of trying cope with the loss of a loved one and deal with ordering the monuments from Stark.

Bookwalter told the BannerGraphic Wednesday that since the story broke on Monday, several more people have called to report that they believe they were victimized as well.

He said he intends to further expand his search for victims by petitioning the federal government for Stark's bankruptcy records. By doing that he hopes to obtain a list of customers Stark had when she filed bankruptcy.

"It really takes some time to track down survivors," Bookwalter said.

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