Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Former area business owners indicted
By Margie Wuebker
The former owners of Ole Fort IGA in Fort Recovery and Logan Street IGA in Celina are scheduled to appear in Mercer County Common Pleas Court on May 27 to face charges alleging they wrote nearly $15,000 in checks that bounced.
John Sutter, 46, and Christina L. Sutter, 39, now of Gilbert, Ariz., were indicted last month on four counts of passing bad checks. All four checks were written to the supplier Morning Fresh Superior Foods between July 7 and Sept. 5 of last year.
Arizona authorities initially had difficulty serving court paperwork at the couple's South Parkcrest Street home in Gilbert. After contact was made, Celina attorney Thomas Luth requested the initial appearance take place next month allowing the defendants ample time to drive to Mercer County as their resources and income are limited.
The Sutters purchased the former Big Bear grocery in Celina in 2004 and closed the establishment in 2007, citing economic reasons. However, John Sutter said at the time he had no intention of closing the Fort Recovery store, which he had owned for 10 years.
Speaking of the decision to relocate efforts into one location, he said, "We do a great business there. Even people from out of state come there to shop, especially to buy our meat products."
First Merchants Bank of Indiana reportedly changed locks at the Fort Recovery store on Sept. 19 in the wake of foreclosure. The Sutters were no longer in the area at the time and their personal belongings were sold at auction.
The store - the only grocery in the community - was subsequently purchased by Fort Recovery residents Chad and Anne Guggenbiller who changed the name to Wayne IGA.
One of the charges against the Sutters is a fourth-degree felony because the amount exceeds $7,000 while the others are fifth-degree felonies involving amounts ranging from just over $2,000 to more than $2,900. Fort Recovery Police investigated the incidents that led to grand jury indictments against both owners.
The more serious charge carries the possibility of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine while each of the lesser felonies could add an additional 12 months behind bars and a $2,500 fine upon conviction.