Former Hill-Rom employee found guilty of Selling Stolen Property, tools from Hill-Rom

Wanda English Burnett

Nearly two years after a Hill-Rom employee was confronted about selling company tools on a popular auction website, eBay, he was found guilty in Ripley County Superior Court of those crimes.

According to information from the Ripley County Prosecutor’s Office, a jury returned a guilty verdict last Friday, convicting Neil M. Stinger, 32, of Connersville, for Selling Stolen Property. The verdict came after a two-day trial that was prosecuted by Chief Deputy Prosecutor Ryan King.

The first day of trial, jurors would hear from Katy Fudge, human resources representative for Hill-Rom. She told how she confronted Stinger about selling company tools on eBay. Stinger denied that the tools belonged to Hill-Rom and said they were his own personal tools.

Further testimony revealed that on the same day Stinger was initially confronted, he brought a box containing eight tools to Fudge’s office. Those tools were identified by Jeff Bessler, former employee of Hill-Rom, as belonging to the company. Bessler was a Manufacturing Engineer/Weld Expert. He testified that he was able to find a 5 stamp on one of the tools, which was significant because there was only one employee with a 5 stamp. Bessler then testified that the 5 stamp on the tool in question perfectly matched the 5 stamp used by the company employee.

The second day of trial a former employee of Hill-Rom, positively identified the tool with the 5 stamp as being a tool he used while working at Hill-Rom.

Batesville Police Detective Mike Benjamin testified that he had followed up on Fudge’s investigation by first requesting to meet with Stinger, which was denied him by the defendant. The detective did track Stinger down and told those in the courtroom last week that Stinger admitted he was responsible for the grinding marks on the tools. But, he told the detective that he ground either his name or initials off one of the tools, again claiming the tools belonged to him personally. He said he was just grinding on them to get them cleaned up for sale.

Stinger took the stand in his own defense. He testified that two of the tools were not his and that he thought that someone had mixed the 5 stamp tool in with those belonging to him. He also said he had a receipt for some of the tools, but was not able to produce the original receipt.

Two union representatives also testified on Stinger’s behalf and said there were no markings on the tools to prove they belonged to Hill-Rom. The representatives even questioned how these marks “suddenly appeared.”

The confusing trial had twists and turns but Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel said he was pleased that the jury was able to see through the differing stories of the defendant. Hertel noted that the Chief Deputy “did an outstanding job exploiting Stinger’s inconsistencies and presented a solid case on the State’s behalf.” He further commended the investigation done by Hill-Rom Human Resources and the Batesville Police Department, along with the professionalism shown by several former company employees throughout the process.