A La Crosse businessman who stole a valuable mandolin from an elderly blind woman was sentenced Tuesday morning.
Michael Bakke, 62, of Sparta, was sentenced to eight months on electronic monitoring for felony theft.
Bakke pleaded guilty to stealing a mandolin from a customer’s home where he went to remove a bat last year. He's the owner of Wisconsin Bat Specialists.
“It seems so diabolical that he knew exactly where to send the mandolin when he got his hands on it,” the woman who owns the mandolin said. “It was almost as if he had it all planned out ahead of time.”
Between May and August 2013, Bakke took the mandolin from the victim’s home and got it appraised by an auction company in Texas. Bakke said when he took the instrument, he thought it was worth between $2,500 - $5,000, but later he found out it was worth much more than that. That's when he went to police and confessed to taking it from the victim's home.
The victim’s son told the court they had the Lloyd Loar Master Model F5 Gibson Mandolin appraised in November 2009 and it was worth $225,000. It also has sentimental value, as it was originally the victim's grandfather's mandolin.
“At the point in time when the theft was finally discovered and Mr. Bakke came forward, there had already been actions put in motion to actually sell this instrument and at that point, he was well aware that the value was indeed far in excess of $5,000,” the victim’s son said.
Bakke had told La Crosse police he took the mandolin because he felt sorry for the elderly woman and thought the money might help her financially. The mandolin was returned to the victim.
“It was incredibly stupid what I did,” Bakke said in court. “I’m definitely very sorry about it.”