VALPARAISO | A co-owner of the former Bella Capelli Salon and Details faces up to four years on home detention and $150,000 in restitution after pleading guilty Tuesday to stealing from and defrauding the business.
Monica Schmidt, 33, showed no emotion as she pleaded guilty to felony theft and three felony counts of fraud.
Her former business partner, Tammy Ferrari, cried while watching the hearing from the rear corner of the courtroom.
If the proposed plea agreement is accepted Dec. 18 by Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper, Schmidt faces 10 years of probation and four years of home detention. She could opt out of two years of the home detention by serving a year of weekends at the Porter County Jail.
The proposal also calls for Schmidt to pay back $150,000 and undergo mental health and substance abuse counseling. If she is able to pay back $50,000 while completing two years of home detention, she will be eligible to be released early from detention.
Schmidt was charged with 10 felony counts stemming from accusations she stole nearly $400,000 from the company between 2008 and the end of 2011.
The alleged offense came to light in 2010 when Ferrari asked Schmidt about the company finances as part of a discussion about a potential move from 902 Calumet Ave. to a larger site, police said. When Schmidt ignored the request for information, Ferrari reportedly discovered three credit cards in Ferrari's name with a balance due of about $16,000.
Numerous other credit cards with thousands of dollars due also were discovered, as were nonbusiness payments from a company bank account, police said. These payments included health insurance for Schmidt's family when she and Ferrari had agreed years earlier not to use company funds for that purpose, authorities said.
Ferrari discovered that Schmidt was spending up to $20,000 a month from the company for personal gain, police said. These amounts totaled $115,000 in 2008, $136,000 in 2009 and $143,000 in 2010.
The case had been scheduled to go to trial Oct. 22.