TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A woman convicted of stealing thousands of dollars in Fallen Officer Funds and other financial accounts intended for her minor child will serve up to 5 years behind bars after being sentenced in Sullivan County Court on Friday.
Josie Baker, 33, appeared before Judge Robert E. Hunley for sentencing in the Sullivan County Circuit Court. Baker previously pleaded guilty to a level 5 felony charge of theft greater than $50,000 in a November 2022 hearing. As part of her plea deal, prosecutors agreed to enter a joint sentencing recommendation asking for more than two, but no more than five years behind bars.
On Friday, Jan. 13, Judge Hunley followed that recommendation as he handed Baker the maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
The attorney representing the State, Sullivan County Prosecutor Ann Mischler, called Brian Maudlin, the ISP detective assigned to Baker’s case at the time, along with Sullivan County’s Chief Probation Officer, Barabara Montgomery, and late Terre Haute Police Officer Robert Pitts‘ parents to speak at the stand.
Pitts died in the line of duty on May 4, 2018. Police said Baker used nearly a quarter of a million dollars of the child’s money to purchase vehicles, write checks, pay off her student loans, as well as make numerous purchases from locations like Amazon, Walmart, McDonald’s, and Guitar Center.
During the sentencing, Mischler also pointed out that Baker chose to open accounts in banks that were outside of the Sullivan area. In her closing remarks, Mischler summarized the timeline of Baker’s spending to $224,767.41 in a total of 110 days.
“Under the plea agreement, it was 2-5 years. The state of course asked for five. And as I said in my closing statement to the court, when you look at accountability plus responsibility in this case, they equal justice. The state was asking for five years which is exactly what the court imposed. So like I said, I think this is as close to justice that we can get in this case. It’s hard to find, but that’s the state’s job. We’re tasked in every case to find justice, and in this case, it’s hard to find, and this as close as we’re gonna get,” explained Mischler.
Robert Pitts’ parents gave passionate victim impact statements that were supported by other on-lookers in the courtroom through the choice to wear clothing made in memory of Robert Pitts, and the impacted family was further supported by applause when Baker was sentenced.