Mitchener receives 5-year sentence

Thursday, July 23, 2009

GREENCASTLE -- A Roachdale woman who stole more than $56,000 from a local special education cooperative said at her sentencing hearing Thursday she was sorry for what she'd done -- but Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Headley wasn't buying her apology.

"This is one of the worst crimes of dishonesty that I've ever seen in Putnam County," Headley said.

Tammy Y. Mitchener, 33, was sentenced to five years at the Indiana Department of Correction with three years executed and two years on probation. She was convicted of Class C felony corrupt business influence and Class D felony theft. Under the terms of a plea agreement, five other felony charges against Mitchener were dropped.

Headley did not feel the sentence he gave Mitchener was stiff enough, but it was in keeping with the terms of the plea agreement.

"Quite frankly, I wish I could give you more," he said.

Court records said Mitchener wrote $56,639.19 worth of checks from the Old National Trail Special Education Cooperative's account to a vendor called PC Technologies -- which turned out to be a dummy corporation she set up and opened a bank account for. Mitchener deposited the checks she wrote into the PC Technologies account and then moved the money into her personal account, which was at a different bank, using online banking services.

Mitchener, who was employed as treasurer at ONT, committed the crimes between Feb. 24, 2008 and Oct. 31, 2008. She was arrested on Dec. 2. She posted 10 percent of a $10,000 bond and was released from jail that day.

The only witness Mitchener's attorney Robert Perry called Thursday was Mitchener herself.

"What prompted this?" he asked.

Mitchener blamed her crimes on "desperation." She said business at her husband's construction company had been "very, very slow."

"I took care of all the bills and everything in the household," she said tearfully. "We weren't making it."

Mitchener told the court that she knew what she had done was wrong, and that she "should go to jail." She asked for leniency, not for herself but for her husband and children.

"I live with this mistake every day of my life," she said. "Please don't make my husband and children suffer any more than they have to."

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter asked Mitchener at what point she felt bad about what she was doing.

"Right from the beginning," she said.

Mitchener said she considered the money a loan.

"In my mind, I was borrowing money I would pay back at some point," she said.

Mitchener admitted that she eventually got in too deep, and that she knew she would be caught.

"It seemed like everyone already knew what I was doing," she said. "I was friends with the people I worked with, and I was lying to them and to my family. It was very hard. I didn't know how to make it right."

Mitchener has three children, ages 12, 8 and 4. People have said things to her oldest daughter about Mitchener's case at school, Mitchener said.

Perry asked Mitchener to stand and point out individuals in the courtroom who were there to support her. She identified her husband, her parents, the pastor of the church she attends, her siblings and friends.

Mitchener also turned to face the representatives of ONT who were present.

"I'm so sorry," she said, breaking down in tears. "I hope one day you will be able to forgive me."

Nancy Holsapple, director of ONT, said she "had no indication" that Mitchener was stealing from the cooperative. Holsapple terminated Mitchener's employment on Nov. 8, 2008, after ONT's bonding company informed Holsapple that, for "personal reasons," Mitchener could not be bonded (Holsapple said the bonding company would not divulge any details, but they did say the reasons were "not criminal"). Employees who deal with money at ONT are required to be bonded, Holsapple said.

After Mitchener left ONT, Holsapple found a peculiar e-mail from ONT's bank in Mitchener's former office. She made some phone calls, she said, and discovered what Mitchener had been doing.

"My heart just stopped," she said.

Checks drawn on ONT accounts required two signatures -- Mitchener's and that of Dana Bumgardner, administrative assistant and deputy treasurer for ONT.

Bumgardner said on a couple of occasions, Mitchener had presented her with blank checks and asked Bumgardner to sign them.

"I was told by Tammy that they were for taxes," Bumgardner said in court Thursday.

Perry asked Bumgardner if she was admitting that signing blank checks "was something you shouldn't have been doing."

"When I look back on it, yes," Bumgardner said.

The day before Thanksgiving 2008 -- three weeks after Mitchener was fired from ONT -- she attempted to cash another check for over $7,000.

The bank told Mitchener they could not cash the check, and a bank representative immediately contacted Holsapple at her home. While Holsapple was on the phone with the bank Mitchener attempted to call Holsapple on her cell phone.

When Holsapple did not answer her cell phone, she said, Mitchener started e-mailing her to ask what the problem was. Mitchener told Holsapple the check she was trying to cash was for mileage reimbursement, Holsapple said.

That same evening, Indiana State Police Detective Scott Stockton went to Mitchener's home. She came clean about everything, Mitchener said.

"What has your life been like since all of this happened?" Perry asked.

Mitchener drew in a deep breath and dabbed her eyes.

"It's been terrible," she said. "I've hurt my family and I've hurt my friends."

Mitchener told the court she has been in counseling for the last several months.

Bookwalter, like Headley, doubted the sincerity of Mitchener's apologies.

"She was in a position of trust," Bookwalter said. "The true victims are the taxpayers and who she was stealing from -- children with disabilities. I think she's remorseful that she got caught. If she was really sorry, she wouldn't have been trying to cash another check three weeks later."

Bookwalter also pointed out that Mitchener "hasn't paid back one cent" to ONT since her arrest, and that she did not mention ONT in an apology letter she submitted to the court.

Perry said he understood the public was "legitimately outraged" by Mitchener's crimes.

"But it is her first offense," Perry said. "Up to now, she has led a perfectly exemplary life. She's been a good wife, mother and citizen. This is not unlike many kinds of cases that ensnare people. She has cooperated from the beginning and is prepared to do that now. She is not a person of criminal orientation, and she has suffered significant public humiliation."

Perry requested a split sentence of jail time, home detention and probation for his client. He also asked that Headley give Mitchener until mid-August, when her children were back in school, to start serving any jail time.

Headley refused, and gave Mitchener until 4 p.m. Thursday to report to jail.

"You need to dry your eyes, Mrs. Mitchener," he said. "You knew this was coming. I'm going to say to you what Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O'Hara ... you're a thief who's not the least bit sorry you stole, but you are sorry that you got caught."

Headley said he would set a restitution hearing when Mitchener's executed sentence was near completion.

In addition to the checks she wrote to herself, an audit done by the Indiana State Board of Accounts showed that ONT lost more than $52,000 in penalties and interest paid to the Internal Revenue Service and the Indiana Department of Revenue due to Mitchener's negligence.

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  • Banner Graphic - why no mention of the Tammy Wade hearing on Wednesday? Seems to me that if you can get this story in this fast, you could have done the same for the Wade case.

    -- Posted by sbritches on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 12:26 PM
  • wow - strict Judge. I like that!

    -- Posted by mal on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 12:31 PM
  • Good job Headley!

    -- Posted by johndeeregreen on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 12:47 PM
  • wow such a pretty picture beats the old one huh. I'm with the judge to bad she couldn't have gotten more. She should have thought of her husband and children before not after getting caught.

    -- Posted by flygal026 on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 1:28 PM
  • What's up with this picture? This is clearly not her mugshot.

    -- Posted by ExHoosier on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 2:17 PM
  • sbritches== refresh looks like they did an update on Wade for us too...

    -- Posted by flygal026 on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 3:47 PM
  • I like what the judge said, she was not sorry for what she did but rather sorry that she got caught. That is perfect and pretty much sums it up. Great job Headly!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by flygal026 on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 3:48 PM
  • We are so sorry for the Mitchner family. Before all you people start putting rude comments on here, think of what her family is going through, for once people if you can't say anything positive don't say anything at all, we need to pray for this family, that is the right thing to do, this family has and will suffer enough. She will suffer and pay for what she has done. None of us knows what we would do if we were in a desparate situation, we think we do but we don't. How many people have done things you should'nt have and just never got caught, she did, and she will pay, so please think of her family and if you cant say anything possitive stay quiet and pray. We all make mistakes, some may be worse than others, but we all screw up once in a while. Family keep in mind , she is still with you, it could be worse it could be death and be gone forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    -- Posted by themillers on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 4:04 PM
  • i agree with themillers...tammy will be home and this will all be behind her. tammy does regret all of this and i do believe she is sincere. her children do not need to hear people saying negative things about their mother. tammy is a very good person and a GREAT mother. i do hope that anyone who has something bad to say has no children because you never know what could happen to your children. you never know what mistake they could make and i do hope you would stand behind them. i don't have my kids raised and i pray that they would never be pushed into making a mistake in life but NO ONE IS PERFECT!!! i was always raised if you don't have anything nice to say you say nothing at all. tammy is a good person that made a mistake and i will always be here for her, no matter what. but it sounds like mr headley read to much of the comments in the paper, she did regret what she did. i hope noone ever has to feel like she did a year ago that would force her into doing what she did. TAMMY YOU ARE A GREAT PERSON AND AGAIN A WONDERFUL MOTHER.

    -- Posted by friends4ever on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 4:30 PM
  • OMG, she actually is going to jail, good!!!! I thought I had read she paid the money she STOLED back, I must be mistaken because this article says not one dime has been paid back.

    Thursday at 4:00pm what a time she will have in the old PCJ.

    -- Posted by dcsaiht on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 4:31 PM
  • friends4ever:

    what a crock.... good people don't steal 60 some thousand dollars and good mothers lead by example.

    -- Posted by dcsaiht on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 4:38 PM
  • This is for you flygal026. You know what, what she did was very wrong, but, before pointing fingers you need to examine your own life and fix all your issues first, you have no clue what kind of situation or state of mind she was in when she did it, your one of those people who wanna judge everyone else and think your life is perfect. The family will suffer enough without people like you just being hurtful, if you can't be supportive to her family, keep your comments to yourself, people like what is wrong with the world today. And NO, I am not family or a close friend, I know who they are and they are wonderful people, she screwed up let it be.

    -- Posted by themillers on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 4:49 PM
  • desaiht: I am sorry to tell you good people do do bad things, it's called being human, we ALL makes mistakes. Good people steal, cheat, lie etc., when you feel your world is closing in and your losing it all the mind works in funny ways and you may do things that you would not normally ever do, the chance was there and she did it, SHE SCREWED UP, just as I am sure you and everyone has. I am sorry, if unless anyone of us was in her shoes, well.... you just don't know what you would do and yes you are right, it is a bad example for her children, but that doesnt mean she is a terrible person or a horrible mother. You can tell she is a great mother and would die for them, and obviously take the chance of getting caught and going to jail to provide what was lacking in the finances, it was wrong and she and her children and husband are the ones paying dearly.

    -- Posted by themillers on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 5:02 PM
  • I think people should brush up on their grammar and spelling!

    -- Posted by peace7 on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 9:12 PM
  • peace7:grow up!!!

    -- Posted by themillers on Thu, Jul 23, 2009, at 9:44 PM
  • know who you are....yes, it does mean she is a bad mother. In fact, in my opinion, she is a HORRIBLE mother. She set a very bad example for her children. Maybe YOU don't know what you would do in a desperate situation....but many of us do know...we would not STEAL money...we would not do what she did. "This is one of the worst crimes of dishonesty that I've ever seen in Putnam County," Headley said. I agree with him. And one more thing...pot meet kettle....telling everyone else that if they can't be supportive to the family, keep their comments to themselves.

    -- Posted by ExHoosier on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 12:32 AM
  • she couldn't pick another organization to steal from. why not just steal from the challenged kids, o wait she did my bad lol

    -- Posted by u know who on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 2:11 AM
  • at her pre trial,she wore some pretty nice clothing, consisted of a new bag and flashy outfit, wonder where she got the money???? o ya ino. from the challenged kids organization haha. i wonder how much other stuff she bought for HERSELF!!!

    -- Posted by u know who on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 2:16 AM
  • Not to over shadow one of the best sentencings in Headly's career but, if he did not agree with the sentence he was handing down then why did he let the court except the plea agreement. He has the power to say no. As he did in sentencing(Headley did not feel the sentence he gave Mitchener was stiff enough.) That would have just sent Perry back to his client saying well they wont take the plea so she could have gotten more time. But I guess the upside is she will have to pay off the restitution before her sentence and probation are over or she will violate and go back to jail. I guess she had better save that 16 cents a day she will make in prison.

    -- Posted by Oh My Goodness on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 6:49 AM
  • Wait a sec I just did the calculations

    52000 in restitution

    100 a month in probation fees (I am guessing)

    equals 54400 (not including court costs and fines)

    to be paid in 730 days of probation.

    Means she would have to save 74.52 every day to pay it back.

    Priceless. Also almost impossible (guess headly was thinking)

    -- Posted by Oh My Goodness on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 7:04 AM
  • to themillers - you are really off base thinking that people WOULD resort to stealing if put in her situation.... And don't think some of us haven't experienced tough times in life before!!! Her situation isn't unique, many of us struggle daily! You should know that MOST of us WOULD NEVER do what she did, no matter how bad life gets. Some of us have INTEGRITY and a CONSCIENCE something she obviously lacks. On a side note, I do hope her husband and children can get through this and are able to rebuild their lives.

    -- Posted by SamHill on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 7:18 AM
  • This is for you ExHoosier~ I agree with you, she did set a very bad example for her children and your right many of US have integrety and would never steel to survive, all I am saying is set aside from what she has done she loves her children and is a very good mother in the loving and motherly way, this is a terrible thing for these children, all I am saying is we need to support the family, not her, what she done, as Headley said probably wasnt stiff enough, she deserves to pay I dont disagree, we as americans are just so quick to judge and point fingers,and we never know someday when we could be in a similar situation, whether it be a parent, our children(hope and pray to God the way we raise our children and the example we try to set they would never result to that)best friend, aunt, uncle, we all would hope not, but you never know. There is something I have always said "One thing I can't stand is a thief,and a liar, I would rather someone spit in my face that to steal from me or lie to me" and I stand by that 100%. All we are saying people, everyone has their opinions, just please think about her children and what they are going to have to suffer from, because their Mom made a huge mistake, please pray for the family.

    -- Posted by themillers on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 8:21 AM
  • SAMHILL~ the message for ExHoosier is also meant for you also, don't get me wrong we agree with everything you are saying, and you are right MOST of us would never turn to that, it's her children who will suffer.

    -- Posted by themillers on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 8:41 AM
  • I get that we need to support the family. These kids are going to have a rough road ahead of them. Part of the reason though is bc their mom lied to them and told them it was all paid back and that nothing was going to happen, so they were blindsided. My heart goes out to them and hope that children will be told by their parents to be respectful, as these kids need no more heartache. As for her and what she did..."She was desperate"...PLEASE, I get she may of not had much money, but some of us live on "not much money" as a one income family (not by choice) we are going through extremely hard times (as im sure alot of people are), you just pray and take it day by dont take it from others. She deserves what she gets

    -- Posted by cantbelieveit on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 9:00 AM
  • divorce her. move on.

    -- Posted by mal on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 9:45 AM

    -- Posted by skittlebug on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 12:48 PM
  • Does anyone know if she will be eligible for the good time credit( I think thats what it is called)? Thanks.

    -- Posted by YNOTU2 on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 1:38 PM
    Response by Banner Graphic:
    All DOC inmates are eligible for good time credit. One day credit for each day they serve without incident.
  • Hmmm...wondering why my comment was removed. It was certainly a lot more respectful than most of the others that remain!?!?!?

    -- Posted by roachdalekid on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 3:41 PM
  • I have one more question for you ( you know who): Why should we think about her children? She did not appear to have their best interests in mind when she was living a life of thievery. Oh...was she being a good mother when she bought their clothes with stolen cash?

    -- Posted by ExHoosier on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 5:29 PM
  • ExHoosier~you are right, but this is not the childrens fault,a good mother did something very bad and set a horrible example,now justice has been served we should all let it rest now. I understand everyones opinions and frustration, she has been punished and I hope people with just continue to pray for her family.

    -- Posted by themillers on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 9:17 PM
  • Desperation does not make someone a criminal. Circumstance will simply expose ones true character.

    -- Posted by VonMises on Sat, Jul 25, 2009, at 6:19 AM
  • With the over population of Indiana's prison system she could be released in little as 3 months, with a sentence modification or countless other legal means. As it stans now her release date will be a year and a half from now.I would bet that there were alot of mistakes in her case which will be brought up by her attorney in the coming months in an effort to get her released. I guess the funny part of this whole mess is that she only paid 10 percent of a 10 thousand bond which is by no means close to what she stole.As for her and her family, we as banner graphic comment monkeys should not keep saying the same things over and over. This is 2009 and they have outlawed burning people at the stake. She may have not gotten all the prison time that we as citizens think she should have, but she will have to live with this for the rest of her life.I am sure we have not heard or read the last of her. 50k is a lot to pay back in such a short time.I will bet that when it is all over her hubby will be at the prison gates waiting for her. Why would he do that you ask, well I am sure he is still spending the money she stole to this day.Of course the old saying applies, ignorance is bliss and it pays well too.We should all just wish her and her family well and call it a day.She is not a victim in this crime and I am sure that ONT had insurance so they got theirs back too.Besides she wont be that far away from home. probably end up in Rockville.

    -- Posted by Oh My Goodness on Sat, Jul 25, 2009, at 8:32 AM
  • Well if Tammy Mitchener and Tamara Wade don't follow the rules and structure in prison they could do all their time plus more time.The can have good time taken away. Prison is a rough place to be. Any more cases of this nature in this county justice should be time-justice in both cases have been served-FINALLY! If they had been men there would have been no question especially in the Tamara Wade case from the beginning about prison time. Mother's just getting slapped on the wrist don't work. Do the crime do the time-female or male The law is the law. Judges in Putnam County I feel are finally seeing this.

    -- Posted by peace2019 on Sat, Jul 25, 2009, at 6:40 PM
  • the millers...Hmmm you must be very close to the situation. You have such a response for everyone. Oh poor Tammy who strolled around with coach purses and new cars only to look down her nose at others as they walked by...Is that the Tammy you never met, because that's the Tammy we knew. I do feel sorry for her children and her children only. Husband...not at all, he should be sitting right there with her, and be responsible for paying 50% of what she stole back. That's how it works in a marriage, and let's not say he had no clue...come on!!! How did he think his bills were getting paid??? She is exactly where she needs to be, what kind of mother would steal from special needs children....ask yourself that question, my answer is a ruthless, selfish & self centered one!! I wish Headley had put her on work release after 6 months to scrub the toilets and mop and wax the floors on her hands and knees every single day at ONT.

    -- Posted by horsepower on Sat, Jul 25, 2009, at 6:46 PM
  • You get what you give in this world and Tammy is getting hers! Stealing from ONT who helps children progess and become good citizens is a very low blow. ONT helped me through high school and it breaks my heart that someone took advantage of the system. I hope one day when Tammy is out of prison and served her probation she will make this right. Everyone should be allowed to fix thier mistakes. Good luck Tammy and I hope you will make the best out of your current ordeal.

    -- Posted by 1stamendrights on Sun, Jul 26, 2009, at 1:08 PM
  • horsepower~NO not even close to the situation, not even friends, just know who they are. Funny thing is we agree with most everything most of you are saying especially about the clothes, purses and car she drove, but, there is a difference between US and MOST people, WE HAVE A HEART, and we have children also and could not imagine what her children are going through. Tammy does deserve to pay, and she is. It was an aweful and horrible thing what she did and point is she will have to pay the rest of her life. We don't feel sorry for her, it her CHILDREN, get that through your head people.

    -- Posted by themillers on Sun, Jul 26, 2009, at 3:56 PM