WARSAW — A Warsaw man was sentenced to eight years in jail for burglarizing two separate victims in 2016 and 2017. Due to a plea agreement, five of those years will be suspended and served on probation.
Wendell H. Cornett, 41, 3762 W. Old Road 30, Warsaw, was charged with burglary, a level 5 felony; theft, a level 6 felony; fraud, a level 6 felony; and two counts of theft, class A misdemeanors.
According to the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, a burglary was reported on the day after Christmas in 2016 at a residence within the county. The property owner said the burglar had ransacked his barn looking for items to steal and had stolen battery cores, a battery charger and approximately 60 feet of copper leads from a welder. The burglar had also made off with a battery, which was stolen from inside a vehicle as well as two chain saws. Later in the month, the victim told police that he observed a white male in a silver van stealing items from his property. He gave police the license plate number and police later found the van at Westhaven Estates. The vehicle was registered to Cornett’s wife. The woman gave police permission to search the van and the stolen items from the most recent incident were located. Police checked with local pawn shops and learned that Cornett had sold chain saws at Ashland and Cash America.
In January 2017, sheriff’s deputies responded to a theft report from Roberta Greene, who told the police a compound bow had been stolen from inside her vehicle. She told police in a separate incident the following month that her debit card had been taken from her wallet and used after Cornett had been inside her vehicle. Police learned that Cornett had sold a compound bow at Cashland.
Cornett’s defense attorney Jay Rigdon told Superior Court II Judge Torrey Bauer that the defense hoped the court would take Cornett’s need for therapy for alcoholism into account when passing sentence.
The prosecution, headed up by attorney Brad Voelz, aimed to show the court the total weight of aggravating factors in the case and called Greene to the stand.
The woman, who police say was Cornett’s second victim, told the court that Cornett is married to her niece.
“I trusted him to be in my home and he took advantage of that,” she said. “You guys are slapping him on the wrist. I never had anything stolen from my house until I let that man into my home.”
Greene told the court that at the time of the incident, she was caring for a man who was terminally ill. She accused Cornett of stealing from the man who was dying. “He’s been doing this kind of thing since he was 18 years old,” she said.
Cornett, through his attorney, negotiated a plea agreement that provided for one of the class A misdemeanor theft charges, along with the felony theft charge, be dismissed. According to the agreement, the burglary charge came with a sentence of five years and Bauer ordered Cornett to serve three years of that sentence with the remaining two years on probation. Probation was also ordered in lieu of jail time for the fraud and one of the misdemeanor theft charges. The sentence for those two will be served concurrently, but those two sentences will be served consecutive to the burglary sentence.
Bauer gave Cornett credit for 243 days already served. Cornett was also ordered to pay restitution to Greene in the amount of $1,150.47.