A 42-year-old Rolla woman was found guilty of felony theft and now faces a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison.

Debra Baumgartner was found guilty of four counts of felony theft by Judge Robert Schollmeyer, who presided over the case in Phelps County on special assignment. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Bill Hudson handled the case in Phelps County Circuit Court and said Baumgartner’s charges stemmed from a police investigation in late 2018.

Deputies with the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department identified Baumgartner as a suspect during their investigation into a report of stolen firearms and collectible currency in November 2018.  According to Hudson, when police made initial contact with Baumgartner during their investigation, they found unique currency in her possession.

Police said Baumgartner initially denied any wrongdoing, but later admitted she had traveled to the location where deputies found the stolen property after police told Baumgartner there were inconsistencies in her police interview and the statements made by another suspect in the case, according to Hudson.

“Stealing in Missouri includes receiving, retaining or disposing of property a person knows or believes to be stolen,” Hudson said. “The Phelps County sheriff’s deputies did a great job identifying circumstantial evidence to help prove the defendant’s guilt in this case.”

Baumgartner’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 4 where she faces a maximum of 28 years in prison. Court documents show that Baumgartner had recently completed probation after entering a guilty plea in a separate misdemeanor theft case in Phelps County.  

“She had innocent explanations for the stolen items in her possession, but changed her story to the police about being at the residence where more stolen property was recovered,” Hudson added. “And while the evidence indicates she was not the person who initially took the property from its rightful owner, it does place Baumgartner in possession of stolen articles and indicates that she played a role in disposing of the rest.”

According to court documents, charges have been filed against Baumgartner in Phelps County dating back to 2007.