Brian E. Schendel was also ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution and given 200 days credit for time already served.
Kosciusko Superior Court I Judge Duane Huffer accepted the guilty plea and plea agreement of Schendel after hearing a few brief statements from Dan Hampton, prosecuting attorney, and defense attorney Tom Earhart.
Schendel was charged with exploitation of an endangered adult, a class D felony. Court documents show Schendel has an address of 1344 Highway 9N, Guntown, Miss., however, he is also known to have an address in Oakridge, Tenn.
Hampton said the state had refrained from filing additional charges against Schendel upon agreement to pay restitution as terms of the plea agreement. It was also noted in the pre-sentence investigation that Schendel has had a history of misconduct with felonies and theft charges resulting in jail time or probation, even having his probation revoked.
Huffer told Schendel his “actions were inconceivable,” and the victim “didn’t deserve to be treated this way.”
Huffer called Schendel the “lowest on the totem pole of life.”
Earhart, in his client’s defense, noted Schendel accepted his responsibilities for his prior actions and while the court has set restitution higher than what his client felt was owed the victim, he has supported the computations and will accept the responsibility. Earhart did reference a letter from Schendel’s wife who noted it would cause a hardship on the family if he was sentenced to the statutory maximum.
It was noted Schendel is sincere in making things right and reimbursing the victim and plans to gain suitable employment. Regarding his risk assessment, Earhart felt probation would be in his client’s best interest to obtain employment, as restitution could not be made otherwise.
The investigation began on June 25, when Rhonda Wrightsman came to the sheriff’s department to report Schendel was scamming her mother, Leona Smith, 79. At that time the amount was approximately $20,000.
Authorities were told Schendel had helped Smith purchase a vehicle in July 2011 and had continued to contact the elderly woman advising her he needed money and would pay her back. Smith had been going to Western Union at Kroger (Owen’s) on East Center Street, Warsaw, to wire Schendel the money.
Wrightsman became aware of the situation on May 15 when Fort Wayne Airport Police called her stating her mother had been coming to the airport one day a week for 12 weeks, just sitting waiting for Schendel to arrive and pay her money back.
Detectives with the sheriff’s department were able to obtain the last five Western Union transactions – between April 2 and April 6 – that Smith had sent to Schendel. Those transactions totaled $560.
Records show the money was sent daily during that time period and employees at Owen’s Supermarket had told Smith she was being scammed and they refused to do any more transactions. The investigating officer noted the employees started writing on the forms that Smith advised she was sending money to Schendel who promised to catch a bus or plane to Fort Wayne and pay her back the money.
Smith then went to Wal-Mart and began sending money grams.
During the investigation, authorities spoke with Smith on several occasions and realized she is easily confused, has a lack of memory due to aging.