Victim unhappy with home detention in business theft case

2013-03-05T18:15:00Z 2013-03-06T11:21:04Z Victim unhappy with home detention in business theft caseBob Kasarda, (219) 548-4345

VALPARAISO | Tammy Ferrari was not happy Tuesday about a deal that will allow her former business partner to spend a few years on home detention after admitting to stealing a large amount of money from the Bella Capelli Salon and Details salon they owned.

"Nothing has changed in your world," Ferrari told Monica Schmidt during the sentencing hearing.

Schmidt, 33, was sentenced under the terms of the plea agreement to 10 years of probation, which includes four years of home detention. The period of home detention will be cut in half if she is able to pay off $50,000 of her $150,000 in restitution within the first year.

She pleaded guilty to Class D felony theft and three Class D felony counts of fraud.

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 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 numerous credit cards with thousands of dollars due and nonbusiness payments from a company bank account, police said.

Ferrari said while Schmidt remains in her luxury Valparaiso home, she will continue the challenge of rebuilding her life and coping with the suffering she has endured.

"You enjoy your stuff," Ferrari said. "The repair of your actions is now my responsibility."

Schmidt apologized for her actions and took full responsibility, saying she was embarrassed and it will never happen again.

When asked by Porter Circuit Judge Mary Harper about the victim's displeasure with the plea agreement, Deputy Prosecutor Trista Hudson said the case was difficult because it straddles the line between a civil business dispute and criminal behavior.

She said the outcome is a compromise between the two sides and allows for restitution to be paid, which would be tougher if prison time were included.

A civil suit is still pending, which could impact the amount of restitution.

Harper, who said most criminal cases do not allow the opportunity to compensate victims, scolded Schmidt.

"I don't know how you can do that," she said,

Ferrari said Tuesday the reason Schmidt got away with the crime is because she trusted her.

"I loved you like a sister," Ferrari said.

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