ANGOLA — A Camden, Michigan, woman who left two young children in a sweltering vehicle in an Angola parking lot was sentenced to two years of incarceration Monday morning in Steuben Superior Court.
Sallie M. Wireman, 24, pleaded guilty to two Level 6 felony charges of neglect of a dependent and misdemeanor theft.
She was arrested June 18 after Angola Police Officer Evan Howe rescued the children by breaking out the driver’s side front window of the vehicle, say court documents. The vehicle allegedly registered 128 degrees on its interior with the outside temperature around 90. Police were contacted by concerned citizens who saw the two boys, ages 2 and 3, crying inside the locked van.
Monday, Judge William Fee accepted a plea agreement, sentencing Wireman to two years for each count of neglect, with one year of each suspended. After serving two years, Wireman will be on probation for two years. The sentence for the theft count, 180 days, will run concurrently to the other terms. Wireman received two days credit for time already served.
She was ordered to report to Steuben County Jail on Saturday, March 6. Her court-appointed attorney Anthony Kraus said she'd applied to serve her sentence on home detention at her Michigan residence but according to information provided to the court on Monday, Northeast Indiana Community Corrections asked her to move to an Indiana residence for supervision. Fee referred Wireman to community corrections for further discussions.
After her arrest, she was released from jail on a pretrial monitoring program and prohibited from having any contact with the two boys. In court Monday, Wireman said she has four children that include two girls that she does see.
Per the plea bargain, Wireman must abide by recommendations of the Michigan Department of Child Services and Child Protective Services for potential visitation or custody of the boys.
The boys' foster parent was at the Steuben County Courthouse Monday morning but was not allowed past the front vestibule due to strict COVID-19 rules limiting people in the courthouse and courtrooms. Fee called a recess after realizing there was a potential interested party in the case but the woman had left the building and could not be located.
"I certainly would have liked her to be present for the sentencing," said Deputy Prosecutor Travis Musser.
In the interests of closure, Fee said he wanted to continue with the hearing. A case worker for the children did attend the hearing and was consulted by Kraus and the prosecutor on the legal issues concerning visitation.
Wireman told Fee she's been in therapy and working with CPS because she wants to see the children again.
A presentence investigation conducted by Steuben County Probation Department showed a low risk that Wireman would repeat her criminally neglectful behavior.
Musser described a Michigan criminal record that included several shoplifting convictions.
"Shoplifting was your goal here," said Fee to Wireman.
The children were left in the van at a big box store in Angola, with only the back vents open for ventilation, say court documents. The children’s faces were red and hair sweat soaked after they were freed by Howe. They were turned over to the Indiana Department of Child Services along with an infant, who Wireman had taken into the store with her.
Store video showed that Wireman, who was inside for more than a half hour, did not pay for all the items in her grocery cart.
Fee said Wireman violated the children's trust by putting them in danger.
"Things could have been worse," Musser noted. He said probation was needed "for an extended period of time to make sure that something like this does not happen again."
The no-contact order issued by the court ended with Wireman's sentencing. Custody and visitation of the children are now at the sole discretion of authorties in Michigan, said Musser, adding there is "no guarantee that is going to happen within in the next week, or month, or year, or ever."
Fee said Wireman's criminal actions would appear to most to be "callous indifference" to the safety and well being of her children. He said that is aggravated by their very young age.
"This is about accountability," Fee said as he handed down the sentence.