The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

October 11, 2010

Babb sentenced to 8 years for theft from employers

ANDERSON, Ind. — Lori Babb’s past caught up with her Monday when Judge Thomas Newman Jr. in Madison Superior Court 3 sentenced her to eight years in the Indiana Department to Correction. A teary-eyed Babb, shackled and wearing an orange and white jumpsuit, turned to her husband, Kevin Babb, and whispered, “I love you,” before being taken back to the Madison County jail to await transfer to prison.

Two weeks ago, in a plea agreement, Babb pleaded guilty to five felonies for taking money when she worked for three Pendleton businesses — Dolphin’s Cove (tanning beds), Time and Space (storage units) and a U-Haul office — all owned by Jeff and Beverly Swackhamer. On the stand, Jeff Swackhamer said Babb took $18,000 from the business, but added that it was probably twice that high. He said that Babb’s stepfather had repaid the Swackhamers $10,000.

Babb’s attorney, Zaki Ali, seized on the uncertainty of Swackhamer concerning missing funds.

“Everything I’ve seen doesn’t add up to $18,000,” said Ali.

Swackhamer insisted that the money total is short of what was taken.

Before the sentencing, Babb read a statement apologizing to Swackhamer. During her 14 months in jail, Babb said she had found clarity.

“I was a liar and manipulator and never let anyone in. I’d become the woman I never wanted to be. Lies are my fortress. A fortress needs walls, and I built some.”

Deputy prosecutor Steve Koester said she wrote a nice statement, but added Babb has a credibility problem after stealing from Swackhamer then going to Panama City Beach, Fla., and doing the same thing at Solace Day Spa, owned by Jennifer Staerker who eventually had to sell her business because of what Babb had taken from her. Babb ended up in Bay County, Fla., jail but was sentenced to only time served when she went on trial. She was extradited to Madison County this summer.

“It’s hard to see a grain of truth in what she has to say,” said Koester.

Babb did have one backer in the court, her husband who took the stand and said Lori Babb didn’t do what she was accused of.

“My wife is a good person and a great mother,” Kevin Babb said.

In the audience, Beverly Swackhamer whispered, “Oh my God.”

Kevin Babb wanted his wife released to him. “I’d make sure my wife can’t do anything to get in trouble again.”

Koester took issue with Kevin Babb.

“Who is to blame for her being locked up?” asked Koester. “You’ve directly benefited from her ripping off her employers.”

Ali asked the judge for three years in the DOC.

Newman said mitigating circumstances were outweighed by aggravating circumstances before sentencing Lori Babb to eight years, the maximum under a plea agreement that had possible sentences for her five felonies reduced to run concurrently. Newman included in the sentence time served in Florida, which was about a year.

Ali said Babb would appeal the case with a public defender.

“I wish it was the full eight years,” said Beverly Swackhamer after Babb had been led away.

Contact Stephen Dick, steve.dick@heraldbulletin.com and 640-4863.

 

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