The former owner of Greencastle Monuments changed her plea to guilty on theft charges and was sentenced to three years in prison Friday morning in the Putnam County Supreme Courtroom.
Angela M. Stark, Crawfordsville, was arrested in September for taking money from her customers and never placing the orders for the headstones they purchased.
Stark was originally charged with seven counts of class D felony theft. During Friday's sentencing, Judge Robert Lowe said that Stark had agreed to plead guilty to three of the seven charges, with the other four counts dropped.
Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter told the BannerGraphic investigators believe there are 19 victims of theft, but they were only able to find seven, resulting in the seven charges.
James Robinson testified his family story to the court. Representing his father, who was unable to speak, Robinson told the court that his family purchased the stone for his mother in February of 2004 and paid $1,500.
Bookwalter asked Robinson if he did anything to contact Stark when his family did not receive the headstone. Robinson said that he had called Stark and then later went to her home to pick it up because the monument store in town had closed.
Robinson said that his family had purchased a stone that was already on the lot, but when he went to Crawfordsville to pick it up, Stark told him she did not have it.
Robinson later told the BannerGraphic that he first called Stark to find out about the stone, she blamed an area funeral home for not having the foundation stone down. After that, he said she quit answering her phone.
Robinson's brother Bob said that they were promised the stone originally in the fall, but when Thanksgiving came around and they found the store closed, they knew there was a problem. Both brothers said they took Stark to small claims court when they knew they were not getting anywhere.
Stark started Greencastle Monuments in August of 2002 and worked as the middle man with Thomas Monuments. She said she started noticing she was in financial trouble in July 2004.
When Stark decided to leave the business, she informed Thomas Monuments that she had received consecutive bills for some of the headstones. She was later sent a bill for $10,000 and was told the no stones would be either completed or set until she paid the company.
Stark told the court she used the money to pay her bills, purchase groceries and for other personal expenses. She also said that she told the victims misleading things when they called about their family member's headstone.
Her main reason for lying to the families was to work something out so they could receive their stones. She told the court that she was more than willing to pay the families back.
Stark apologized to the families present in the courtroom. She said she was sorry for all the pain and grief she had caused.
Stark was sentenced to three years, and will serve six month in the Department of Correction. The remaining two and a half years will be served on probation.
She will also have to perform 40 hours of community service, participate in a "Thinking for Change" class and pay $7,146.84 in restitution for all seven counts.