Steven J. Gutowski, 39, whose last known address was Winona Lake, changed his not guilty plea to guilty this morning in Kosciusko Superior Court on three counts forgery, class C felonies, and three counts theft, class D felonies.
The latest charges stem from Nov. 28, 2011, and May 4 and May 15, 2012, when he allegedly falsified advertising insertion orders for three companies without their approval and stole from his employer, The Papers Inc. in Milford.
Gutowski’s past is dotted with check deception charges and small claims actions, but in this latest case, the charges indicate he created fraudulent advertisement orders totaling approximately $2,325 and received commission based on that amount from The Papers Inc. He will appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 31, at which time Judge Duane Huffer will determine if the plea agreement is accepted or rejected. If accepted, sentencing will occur at that time.
The plea agreement entered this morning calls for the initial executed sentence to not exceed four years of jail time. Through the plea agreement, Gutowski also agrees to pay restitution for all charges and uncharged misconduct. The state also agrees not to file additional felony counts as a result of the investigation.
If Gutowski’s guilty plea is accepted, the judge can impose a longer jail term, but that would be suspended and the defendant would placed on probation for the remainder of the terms. A class C felony allows a jail sentence of between 2 years to 8 years, and a class D felony allows a sentence of 6 months to 3 years.
Gutowski is no stranger to legal troubles. In cases dating from 1998 to 2011, he had several wage garnishments ordered against him from his former employer, Lifeline Youth and Family Services. He also filed bankruptcy which halted all small claims and wage garnishments pending against him, a total that amounted to $180,859.55.
Six check deception misdemeanor charges, four of which were all filed on May 24, 2011, were all dismissed when restitution was made.