Feb. 2008

Bridgers still faces civil case filed by county
The Shelbyville News
February 1, 2008
By Bettina Puckett
Staff Reporter

Although Olde Geneva Dairy owner Anson Craig Bridgers was sentenced this month to one year in prison for tax evasion, he still faces a civil case filed by the Shelby County Plan Commission.

Bridgers was scheduled to have a final pretrial hearing in Shelby County Superior Court No. 2 on Wednesday, but it was continued until February 20, 2008. A bench trial – which means a trial before a judge only, without a jury – has been set for March 5, 2008, said Brady Rife, a Shelbyville attorney hired as special counsel for the case by the Shelby County Plan Commission.

Rife said that two of Bridgers’ attorneys – David Murphy and Katie Mofield of David Murphy & Associates in Greenfield – filed motions with Shelby Superior Court No. 2 Judge Russell Sanders, to withdraw from the case, and Sanders granted their request.

Bridgers, 43, has been a focus of controversy over the past year among women scrapbookers in several states for the manner in which he was running the Olde Geneva Dairy, a scrapbooking retreat business at 2801 Vandalia Road. Before it was declared an illegal business because of zoning and health violations, hundreds of women – many of whom lived out of state – had come to the retreat to spend the weekend with friends and enjoy their popular hobby of scrapbooking.

In recent months, about 30 women have filed complaints against Bridgers with Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter’s office, saying they were led to believe they were going to spend the weekend at a quaint former dairy, only to be directed to an unimpressive hotel setting when they arrived in Shelby County. One woman called Bridgers’ tactics a “bait and switch”.

“The cases and the consumer complaints we have received are being investigated and reviewed,” said Staci Schneider, press secretary for Carter on Thursday. “No legal action at this point has been taken, but those cases are still open and pending.

Civil options against Bridgers could range from a monetary loss to a lawsuit, she said.

Before Shelby County officials ordered him to cease and desist further operation of the Olde Geneva Dairy, Bridgers operated a retail establishment at the scrapbooking retreat and provided food service there. The dairy also served as Bridgers’ home.

Rife said Bridgers could be fined up to $500 per day for each violation of the county’s zoning ordinances and other local codes.

In the tax evasion case Bridgers was convicted of failing to pay $52,419 in withholding tax. Shelby County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Landwerlen said Bridgers withheld tax on his employees who worked for him at Bridgers Manufacturing Corporation in Shelbyville, but he did not forward the money to the state. He made only one payment of $695 in 2005, Landwerlen said.

In that case, Bridgers was granted probation on August 2, 2006. He was told not to consume alcohol as a condition of his probation, but on February 18, 2007, he was arrested for resisting arrest and public intoxication, and was later convicted.

In a recent January 16, 2008 probation revocation hearing in Shelby County Superior Court No 1, Bridgers was sentenced to one year in jail. When Bridgers gets out of jail, he will still have to pay off the debt owed to the state, Landwerlen said. As of Wednesday, Bridgers remained in the Shelby County jail.

A hardcopy of this article can be found at the Shelbyville, Indiana Library’s Genealogy Services located at 58 W Hendricks Street, Shelbyville, IN 46176 or you can call 317.398.8144