Jan. 2008

Bridgers ordered to serve year in prison
The Shelbyville News
January 17, 2008
By Bettina Puckett
Staff Reporter

Olde Geneva Dairy owner Anson Craig Bridgers was sentenced to one year in jail on Wednesday during a probation revocation hearing in Shelby County Superior Court No. 1. In 2004, Bridgers was accused of failing to pay $52,419 in withholding tax.

"He withheld the tax, but did not forward it to the state, as is required," said Shelby County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Landwerlen.

Bridgers, 43, made one payment of $695 in 2005, but paid "not a dime" in 2007, Landwerlen said. Bridgers is the former owner of Bridgers Manufacturing Corp. in Shelbyville.

An agent from the Indiana Department of Revenue's Criminal Investigation Division interviewed Bridgers at his workplace on Nov. 12, 2004.

During the interview, Bridgers acknowledged that he signed tax vouchers but could not explain why the vouchers were sent with no accompanied sign check, according to court records.

He originally was charged with eight Class D felonies - four counts of failure to remit withholding taxes and four counts of theft, according to a May 29, 2004, report in The Shelbyville News. He was arrested on warrants for tax evasion after an investigation into his business practices by the Indiana Department of Revenue.

The case was held up for a year, but Bridgers finally filed paperwork saying he would plead guilty.

Although Bridgers actually owed two separate debts, Landwerlen said he only filed paperwork for Bridgers to pay the $52,419.

Landwerlen said Bridgers tried to take advantage of Indiana's tax amnesty law. But he has not paid any of the tax money he owes or received amnesty.

Finally, Bridgers was granted probation on Aug. 2, 2006. He was told not to consume alcohol as a condition of his probation, but on Feb. 18, 2007, he was arrested for resisting arrest and public intoxication.

"He went to trial in Superior Court No. 1 and was convicted," Landwerlen said.

At Wednesday's probation revocation hearing, Landwerlen asked Judge Jack Tandy to revoke the full three years of his probation.

"He's been skirting the system forever with this," Landwerlen said.

Although Bridger's most recent attorney, Mark Kamish of Franklin, asked Tandy for a continuation of the probation because Bridgers was taking remedial steps such as attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Tandy ruled that Bridgers should serve one year of executed time with the Indiana Department of Correction.

Kamish could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

When Bridgers gets out of jail in one year, he still will have to pay off the debt owed to the state, Landwerlen said.

Retreat controversies

Bridgers has been the focus of controversy over the past year among women scrapbookers in several states for running the Olde Geneva Dairy, an illegal 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 hobby of scrapbooking.

In recent months, at least 17 of the women have filed complaints against Bridgers with Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter's office because they were led to believe they were going to spend the weekend at a quaint former dairy, only to be directed to a hotel. One woman called Bridgers' tactics a "bait and switch."

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

In November, Bridgers was arrested again for fleeing, interfering with law enforcement and public intoxication after he had a confrontation with some of his Waldron neighbors. Bridgers was with Pamela A. Monroe, 56, a jail officer, who was charged with public intoxication. Monroe was dismissed from her job at Shelby County jail following the incident.

During the sentencing phase of Bridgers' recent court appearance, Landwerlen asked Bridgers if he still was selling women a glorious holiday over the Internet and then shipping them off to a hotel.

"He said, "I've never done that,'" Landwerlen said.”But we know a lot of women who say different. Either women from around the country have organized a wonderful conspiracy, or he lied."

Bridgers is scheduled to appear in Shelby Superior Court No. 2 on Jan. 30 for a final pretrial hearing in the zoning and health-code violation case Shelby County has against him.

The state attorney general's office has yet to rule on the many complaints against Bridgers and his scrapbooking retreat.

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