Light Sentence For 'Prank' Callers Who Told Families Loved Ones Were Killed

By Justin Wilfon

(LOUISVILLE, June 15th, 2004, 6 p.m.) -- Two Louisville men who posed as a police officer on the phone and falsely told people their loved ones had died learned their punishment Tuesday. As WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon reports, the sentences for Joseph Allgeier and Michael Higginbotham were a little more lenient than the victims and the prosecutor would have liked.

Michael Higginbotham, who actually made the calls in March of 2003, received 14 days in jail. Joseph Allgeier, who acted as his accomplice, received only seven days in jail. Under a plea agreement, the prosecution was asking for 90 days and 45 days, respectively, but the judge's ruling fell short of that.

Back in March of 2003 the two posed as a police officer and made more than a dozen phone calls, telling people that a relative had died in a car accident. It's a very cruel crime, and many believe the judge's ruling doesn't make them pay for it.

"I'm disappointed," said prosecutor Kristen Poindexter. "I think that and 45 days and 90 days in the county jail would have sent a strong message to them. And I think it would have sent a strong message to anyone else who would think about doing this type of behavior."

One of the victims, Thomas Volk, agrees. "Seven days, I think, is a little slap on the wrist given what everybody went through. I'm disappointed. It was a very vicious attack. I think it was a physical attack. I think if I had had any serious health problems, it probably would have killed me."

As part of their punishment, the two will also have to work for the Waterfont Development Company this summer, cleaning up the riverfront as part of 150 hours of community service -- still not nearly enough for Don Wright, the lead detective on the case. "Work for the waterfront development -- that's a good summer job. That's not a punishment."

Both Allgeier and Higginbotham apologized in court to their victims. "I would like to apologize to the victims," Higginbotham said. "I know what I did was very wrong."

Allgeier called it "probably the worst thing that I could ever do in my life."

Both men will also have to write apology letters to each of the victims.

Allgeier and Higginbotham were taken into custody after Tuesday's proceedings.

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Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

Online Producer: Michael Dever