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Everhart sentenced to six months in jail

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Poland woman convicted of embezzling from a Cloverdale church is going to jail for her crime.

On Thursday, Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Headley sentenced Michelle S. Everhart, 36, to two years with six months executed in the Putnam County Jail. After serving that time, Everhart will spend six months on home detention and one year on probation.

Everhart's court-appointed attorney, Melinda Jackman-Hanlin, lobbied to have her client serve any executed time on home detention. Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter countered that by asking Headley to consider putting Everhart in jail for a year.

"She's a thief," Bookwalter said. "The only reason we're going to get restitution is because we set a high enough bond."

Everhart was convicted of Class D felony theft for taking funds by various means from the Cloverdale United Methodist Church, where she was employed as an administrative assistant.

"At that point in my life, I was not in the right mental state," Everhart said in court. "We were having financial problems. My husband works in construction, and he was going in and out of layoffs. We were having issues with trying to pay our bills."

Everhart was arrested on Aug. 25. She paid a $6,000 cash bond and was released from jail five days later.

Everhart used two of the church's credit cards -- a Visa and a Wal-Mart and Sam's Club card -- to make unauthorized purchases. She also admitted to writing unauthorized checks from the church's missions fund account -- which is used to support the Putnam County Pregnancy Center, assist abused women and supply infants and children with food and clothing -- and taking cash from the church's collection plate.

"In my mind, I was thinking 'I can use this and pay it back,'" Everhart said. "It just progressively got worse."

In all, court documents said, Everhart stole from the church on 79 occasions. The state requested restitution in the amount of $5,767.92, which included $600 for an audit the church had conducted.

Everhart and Jackman-Hanlin disputed dozens of the allegedly fraudulent charges. Headley said he would subtract some of those charges and would enter a restitution amount later.

Everhart, a married mother of three, began working at the church on March 15, 2007. According to court documents, she began stealing funds a week later.

The thefts came to light this past summer. Representatives of the church told authorities it had been discovered they were not getting bank or credit card statements, and had requested additional statements be sent to a different address. Upon receipt of those statements, church officials began to suspect Everhart had been embezzling funds.

Church officials confronted Everhart and terminated her employment in August.

Everhart originally said she had begun stealing in December of 2007 and used the stolen funds to purchase Christmas gifts for her family. Court records show the thefts started long before the holiday season and that the credit cards had been used to purchase such items as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, fuel and tires for Everhart's personal vehicle, gourmet coffees, cosmetics, gift cards from Best Buy, clothing, toys, meals at restaurants, electric, telephone and propane bills for Everhart's personal residence, as well as for dental work for one of her children.

"They were very personal expenditures," Indiana State Police Sgt. Stockton, who led the investigation of the case, said. "At the interview, she was in shock that I had that information."

The church hired Bray & Associates CPAs, LLC of Greencastle to conduct an audit, and it was discovered that the first theft from the church Everhart committed was on March 22, 2007.

In court, Everhart said she would intercept the church's daily mail in an attempt to hide what she was doing.

Stockton described Everhart as "very forthright, very emotional and remorseful for what she has done."

Everhart has been in weekly counseling since Sept. 15. She said she has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and has spoken to her therapist at great length about "what my triggers are and why I do the things I do."

"I'll do anything and everything to try to please everyone around me," she said.

Bookwalter had a hard time buying that argument.

"When you were buying gourmet coffee and cosmetics, who were you trying to please?" he asked.

Everhart reiterated that she had stolen to please others.

"I'm very remorseful," she said. "This just makes me sick to my stomach."

Jackman-Hanlin asked Everhart what she would say to officials from or members of the Cloverdale United Methodist Church, none of whom were present in court Thursday.

"I would love to ask them for their forgiveness and tell them how sorry I am," she said.

Everhart has two weeks to report and begin serving her sentence. She will receive credit for five days she has already served.

As a condition of her probation, she must continue counseling. She was also ordered to complete 48 hours of community service and pay the costs and fees associated with her case.

This is not Everhart's first theft conviction.

In February of 2002, she was convicted in Marion County of stealing funds from the Boys Scouts of America. She served as the treasurer of that organization.

She qualified for alternative misdemeanor sentencing in that case.

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LOL - I like Bookwalter's response to this -- "I'll do anything and everything to try to please everyone around me," she said. ......."When you were buying gourmet coffee and cosmetics, who were you trying to please?" he asked.

-- Posted by BG-reader on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 3:04 PM

How many of these situations are we going to have in this county. Maybe when someone is employed they should get a Homeland Security clearance. This county needs to give tougher sentences or Putnam county will go to H--- in a hand basket.

-- Posted by bam on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 5:54 PM

she should have just used the excuse of "My father just died and I couldn't help myself" That worked in another recent theft case, didn't it??????

-- Posted by jimsgirl on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 6:28 PM

Isn't odd how people on Wall Street can evade theft charges of the money handed over to them to help the rest of us out, but the common person is nailed to the cross. Theft is wrong. It is sad that there is no justice for all in this country.

-- Posted by nordicheart on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 7:18 PM

It's definitely a sign of the times. People stealing to maintain their lifestyles.

No one, in all these theft and fraud cases have had a good enough reason to steal anything.

Any cases of people stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family? Anyone stealing medicine to save a dying persons life?

No! Lawmen, mothers, grandmothers, living beyond their means.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 7:53 PM

Wow the amount that was embezzeled was not close to what our past sheriff stole but the amount of time to be served is considerably higher. Go figure. He was an elected official who violated the trust of all the tax payers of Putnam county. We need to reinstate corporal punishment. That would cure alot of people thinking they'll just get a slap on the wrist.

-- Posted by Fed up Medic on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 8:01 PM

Wow,it wasnt bad enough she stole from church,she took boy scouts money as well...Whats her next plan,loot a cancer clinic? Didnt one of these other theives steal from funds to support mentally/physically handicapped children? Say it aint so.This county is really hitting bottem.

-- Posted by honestyisbestpolicy on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 11:26 PM

another one got more than the one who stole ober $150,000. Maybe she should have had a son who

worked for Mr Bookwalter and went and pleaded his

mothers case the day she got fired. Sorry lady

you just didnt know the right people.

-- Posted by cec on Fri, Jan 9, 2009, at 5:40 AM

I agree with bam. Please Banner do a comparison study on all the thefts in the last two years and let us see what they stole and what type of sentence they all got. I still say contact the Attorney General's office so they can investigate sentencing practices here in Putnam County. This is beyond believable now. We're not even the laughing stock of the state anymore. People just come to realize that you can steal in Putnam County and not get a damn sentence for it. Just a slap on the wrist. Is there not anything this county can do?

-- Posted by whodouthinkur on Fri, Jan 9, 2009, at 6:57 AM

You would think that since we have been doing this for more than 200 years now that we would have standardized sentencing.

Do this, get that.

This much equals this much etc.

Whats sad is we really have no power yet they are payed by us.

Money oils the wheels of justice............

-- Posted by Dodgers Gone on Fri, Jan 9, 2009, at 8:01 AM

Hum, This lady stole from a church, another from Old National Trail, another from Van Bibber, and yet another from a local Accountant...Lets see who stole the most out of these cases alone? The Women that stole from the Accountant of course, and lets see...so far she has gotten the minimal sentance! No jail time only "Home Detention" NOT one day in jail. Just seems unfair not to mention how it is making our county look towards these types of crimes!

-- Posted by thistownsucks on Fri, Jan 9, 2009, at 9:18 AM

People need to realize that Tammy Wade was sentenced by a Special Judge from another County and that our ex-sheriff was sentenced by a Federal Judge. These people were NOT sentenced by our Judges and our prosecutors did ask for a harsher sentence on the Tammy Wade case, but it was NOT granted. I think we need to give these a rest and quit comparing them to the cases that are actually going through our own court system here.

-- Posted by ladycubs on Fri, Jan 9, 2009, at 10:20 AM

Uh Ladycubs, Why don't you go bake some cookies and quit trying to hide or cover up the truth. People in here have some very valid observations to say the least.

-- Posted by Harmony Church on Fri, Jan 9, 2009, at 3:53 PM

Harmony Church, whose trying to cover up anything? If you actually read the Banner, you would have known that Wade & Frisbee were both sentenced by someone else rather than our local Judges. So, quit making it seem like our local judical system was responsible for the sentence that they got. I think some people like to use this "speak out" to keep things stirred up. Maybe those people need to go bake the cookies or find something better to do with their time, than to be bashing people.

-- Posted by ladycubs on Sat, Jan 10, 2009, at 3:52 AM

its still funny that an out of county judge rolls down here and doesnt know anybody. the prosecutor and the probation dept were asking for 1 1/2 years and the judge totally goes against thier proffessional opinions to let mrs. wade off with house arrest. hmmm!!!!! now somebody just isnt telling the truth......

-- Posted by badboy46120 on Sat, Jan 10, 2009, at 4:41 PM

Another slap on the wrist! Might as well make theft legal in this county because our system doesnt do anything to deter it!

-- Posted by 1stamendrights on Sun, Jan 11, 2009, at 1:39 PM

hahahaha...I just got the chuckle of my life. I clicked on Michelle's picture where it says "order this picture" and found I can get a mouse pad made from her picture for $15.00 or a t-shirt for $19.95 not to mention the glossy photos for $7...whata hoot!!!

-- Posted by Jahaya on Tue, Jan 13, 2009, at 12:50 AM

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