2015-11-24 / Front Page

Poland Man Sentenced In Putnam Superior Court For Bank Robbery

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer

Thomas A. Baker Thomas A. Baker Thomas A. Baker of Poland was recently sentenced in Putnam County Superior Court for the March 26, 2015 armed robbery of Our Community Bank (OCB) in Cloverdale.

Putnam County Superior Court Judge Denny Bridges handed down the sentence after Baker, 43, pleaded guilty to a Level 3 felony charge of armed robbery. Additional Level 6 felony charges of theft and intimidation were dropped.

“Mr. Baker received a 16- year sentence, with 10 years of that executed and the remaining six to be served on probation. He will have to serve 75 percent of that in prison. Additionally, he received a four-year sentence out of Clay County that is consecutive to the Putnam County case,” Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter told the Spencer Evening World.

Baker was given credit for time served (112 days) related to the Clay County charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

“He is now (incarcerated) in Hendricks County to face felony charges there, on an unrelated case,” Bookwalter added. “Mr. Baker was caught here because one of the tellers recognized him from being in the bank a number of times before. He definitely wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to bank robbers.”

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the Putnam County Superior Court by Indiana State Police Master Trooper Ronald Halbert, Baker was identified by bank tellers at OCB after entering the location at 1:35 p.m. on March 26th.

After approaching a female bank teller, Baker handed over a note telling her to give him the money in her drawer and to not put any dye packs or tracers in the money, or that she would get hurt. As the teller read the note, Baker revealed a handgun in his waist band.

During an interview with ISP detectives, the teller told police Baker’s hands were shaking as he dropped the note on the counter, saying he needed to cash a check.

Advising Baker she did not have money in her drawer, the first teller handed the note to a second female bank teller, who met his demanded and handed over a total of $4,445.

Baker allegedly told the second teller, ‘Don’t follow me, or I will shoot you.’

One of the female tellers later told authorities that she knew the suspect as Thomas Baker the moment he entered the bank, noting she had directly dealt with him at least four times since January.

OCB video surveillance provided the ISP with clear footage, including still photographs of Baker parking his 1996 silver Saturn four-door sedan near the front door. Baker can be seen entering the bank wearing a black stocking cap, eye glasses, black jacket, gray t-shirt, and jeans.

Baker was also identified by a confidential informant, who contacted FBI agent Jake Overton following a television newscast reporting the crime.

Authorities later located Baker and his wife, Angela, in Muncie. At approximately 7:30 p.m. ISP Trooper Nick Razor noticed Baker’s vehicle. In an attempted traffic stop, Baker accelerated at a high rate of speed, failed to make a turn and crashed into an embankment. Baker was extricated from the car and later treated at IU Health-Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie for non-life-threatening injuries.

Police recovered a plastic handgun inside the vehicle, which had been spray painted black to appear more real. Baker was also found in possession of approximately $800 in cash. Officers located a receipt for black pray paint from Dollar General as well.

Baker is described as a habitual criminal offender, with two prior and unrelated felony convictions stemming from a January 2007 forgery charge in Wayne County and a March 2014 charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud in Delaware County.

Of Baker’s 26 prior convictions, 19 were traffic related.

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