By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — An Atwood man received a two-year prison sentence after repeatedly messaging a woman while violating a protective order and forging a document to gain access to her financial accounts.
In the first case, Christopher Ryan Bartz, 42, 221 S. Wray St., Atwood, was charged with stalking, a level 5 felony. Bartz was also charged with forgery, a level 6 felony, in a second case. A dozen additional criminal charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Bartz was sentenced in Kosciusko Superior Court Two on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
On Nov. 1, 2019, a woman filed a protective order against Bartz, which was served on Dec. 6, 2019. With the exception of discussing parenting time, the order prohibits Bartz from communicating with the woman.
According to court documents, between Dec. 29, 2019, and Feb. 20, 2020, Bartz sent hundreds of text messages unrelated to parenting time to the woman. Also during that time period were messages ordering the woman to accept Bartz’s calls, to contact him or respond to his texts.
Since the protective order was served, Bartz was convicted of three separate cases of invasion of privacy, all with the woman as the victim. In the first case, Bartz sent the woman approximately 43 text messages in a two-hour period, following service of the protective order. In the second case, Bartz sent the woman over 700 text messages in a four-hour period.
On Jan. 13, 2020, Bartz was incarcerated in the Kosciusko County Jail. While in jail, Bartz left voicemail messages for the woman and enlisted the help of several people to contact the woman and tell her to bail Bartz out of jail. Upon his release from jail on Feb. 20, 2020, Bartz began sending harassing and threatening text messages to the woman.
On Feb. 21, 2020, Bartz filed a protective order in Allen County, saying he was a victim of stalking and repeated acts of harassment from the woman. Since the order was granted, Bartz repeatedly texted the woman in attempts to get her to violate the protective order.
Four days later, the woman received a notification from Via Credit Union informing her that Bartz had presented a forged copy of a power of attorney document in an attempt to access her financial accounts. The woman told officers she never signed a power of attorney for Bartz.
On Feb. 26, 2020, a subpoena was served on Via Credit Union and the forged copy was obtained. The individual who notarized the document said she did not witness the woman sign the document but confirmed that Bartz had brought in the document to be notarized.
Through video surveillance, officers determined that the person attempting to gain control of the woman’s accounts was Bartz.
“I hope these last few months have clarified things for Mr. Bartz,” said Defense Attorney John Barrett during court. “I hope he’s able to close this chapter in his life and not continue to break the law.”
Kosciusko Superior Court Two Judge Torrey Bauer focused on Bartz’s three separate cases of invasion of privacy.
“You decided you knew better than the court,” said Judge Bauer when Bartz apologized for his actions through violating protective orders. “You don’t need to say sorry to me. You didn’t stalk me.”
For stalking, Judge Bauer sentenced Bartz to three years in prison, with one and a half years suspended on formal probation. He has 178 days of jail time credit in the case. Bartz was also sentenced to six months in prison for forgery. Both cases will be served consecutively to one another and consecutively to four other criminal cases.
In total, Bartz received a two-year prison sentence.
Judge Bauer said he had no objection to Bartz serving his sentence through work release or community corrections so long as Bartz qualifies and remains qualified for either program.
A no-contact order is also in place between Bartz and the woman involved in these cases.