Sept. 2008

Bridgers sued by attorney general over alleged scams
The Shelbyville News
September 30, 2008
By Bettina Puckett
Staff Reporter

It took more than a year of complaining by at least 34 former customers of the Olde Geneva Dairy that they had lost deposit money through the illegal scrapbooking retreat, but it was learned on Monday that Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter’s office has finally filed suit against the owner.

One of the angry former customers, who asked that her name not be used, provided The Shelbyville News with a copy of a letter she received from Carter’s office. The letter states that the AG’s office filed suit against Anson Craig Bridgers, doing business as Olde Geneva Dairy, for numerous violations of the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.

“Please let me know if you will be able to testify in the event our case goes to trail,” said the letter from E. Paige Boggs, a certified legal intern in the AG’s Consumer Protection Division. “Consumer testimony is vital to our case.”

Boggs said she would keep the former customer informed of important hearings and developments as the case move forward.

In August (2008), Bridgers, 44, was ordered to pay more than $9,000 in fines and fees after losing a civil case to the Shelby County Plan Commission and the Shelby County Board of Commissioners. Bridgers had represented himself in a May 15, 2008, bench trial before Shelby Superior Court II Judge Russell J. Sanders.

At the same time the three hour civil trial was being held, Bridgers was serving six months in prison on an unrelated tax evasion conviction.

In August of 2007, Shelby County officials sued Bridgers over code violations and for operating a business illegally in an agricultural district. Bridgers ran the Olde Geneva Dairy in Noble Township for at least 101 days – from April 3 to July 13, 2007 – according to court documents. The business, located at 2801 East Vandalia Road, was not a permitted use of the property.

Bridgers, who was released from prison on July 15, 2008, has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment Monday night through a former email address he had used in 2007 to write to The Shelbyville News.

According to Sanders’ ruling, evidence that the Olde Geneva Dairy existed included Internet and other advertising, a sign at the location and phone complaints to the plan commission office. Anyone who violates the Shelby County Zoning Ordinance shall be subject to fines of up to $300 for each day a violation occurs, Sanders wrote.

Bridgers violated the Shelby County code by remodeling the scrapbooking retreat, which also served as his home, and installing a new bathroom, electrical facilities and plumbing – all without the appropriate permits.

Sanders ordered Bridgers to pay $900 for violating the county zoning ordinances, $1,500 for breaching the county code and $6921 for attorney’s fees.

The Shelby County Plan Commission hired Brady Rife as a special counsel in the Bridgers case. Rife is an attorney with the Shelbyville law firm, of McNeely, Stephenson, Thopy and Harrold.

In the unrelated tax evasion case, Bridgers was convicted of failing to pay $52,519 in withholding tax. He is the former owner of Bridgers Manufacturing Corporation in Shelbyville.

Before the Olde Geneva Dairy was declared an illegal business, hundreds of women – many of whom lived out of state – visited the retreat to spend the weekend with friends and enjoy their hobby of scrapbooking.

But at least 34 women filed complaints with Carter’s office and the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana after being led to believe by Bridgers that they were going to spend the weekend at a quaint former dairy, only to be directed to a hotel when they arrived in Shelby County. One woman called Bridgers tactics a “bait and switch”.

Dozens of Bridgers’ former customers are hopeful the suit filed by Carter’s office will result in a refund of the $75 deposits they lost after they learned about the code violations involving the retreat and canceled their reservations for the retreat.

The women have an extensive email network and have created several website on the Internet to warn any potential customers about Bridgers‘ practices.

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