Suspended sentence for first of three bogus theft suspects

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The first of three young Subway restaurant employees implicated in a bogus Dec. 15 robbery of the Greencastle restaurant has pleaded guilty and been sentenced in Putnam Circuit Court.

Joshewa D. Lizotte, 19, Greencastle, who had been facing two counts of theft, a Class D felony, instead reached a plea agreement and entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit theft.

After being strongly admonished by Putnam Circuit Court Judge Matthew Headley for the foolish nature of his actions, Lizotte's change of plea was accepted by the court. Lizotte was represented by attorney Joel Wieneke.

Lizotte, the lone member of the trio not previously employed by Subway, was sentenced to 1-1/2 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. That sentence, however, was suspended by Judge Headley.

Subway employee Hayley R. Ellis, 21, Coatesville, and former local Subway worker Matthew R. Davidson, 19, Greencastle, also have been charged in the case.

Ellis and Davidson also have separate change of plea hearings set in the case and appear likely to get similar sentences.

Ellis, who reportedly made the phone call to police to report the alleged robbery, is charged with theft, conspiracy to commit theft and false informing.

She will appear in court for a 10 a.m. change of plea hearing on April 12. A plea agreement in her case was filed March 1. Ellis is represented by local attorney Trudy Selvia.

Like Lizotte, Davidson is facing two counts of theft. He has a change of plea hearing set for 10 a.m. April 5 in Putnam Circuit Court. Davidson is represented by local attorney Sid Tongret.

None of the three suspects had a previous criminal record. All three suspects have been ordered to have no contact with any Subway store nor to set foot on Subway store property.

From early on in the investigation, police suspected the reported robbery was an inside job. And that was confirmed through the help of store videotape and statements given to City Police Det. Randy Seipel.

Police noted that the would-be intruders seemed to exhibit intimate knowledge of Subway's nightly closing procedures, indicating an inside job appeared likely.

The suspects reportedly agreed that while Ellis was undertaking closing operations, Davidson and Lizotte would enter the restaurant and make it look like a robbery.

After they departed, Ellis would inform local police and Subway management that she had been robbed.

The undisclosed amount of cash was then split up between the three suspects, police said.

The contrived incident unfolded just after 10 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Subway at 1360 E. Indianapolis Rd. in the Shoppes of Greencastle center. Ellis initially told police she opened the back door and went outside to dump the trash, and was then overpowered by one intruder while two others ran inside and took cash from the registers and safe.

Davidson and Lizotte also reportedly told police they had been smoking the banned synthetic marijuana substance K-2 (aka "Spice") before the incident.

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