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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Clay County author will sign new book

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Brazil Public Library will be hosting a book signing Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m.

Joseph Fitch, author of "Badges and Badasses," was born in Clay County and graduated from Sugar Ridge Township School in Ashboro.

After attending Indiana State University, Fitch was accepted into the Indiana State Police Academy.

He began his career by serving as a patrolman at the Indiana Toll Road. During his first year, Fitch qualified to be a member of the Toll Road District Pistol Team, and later, became a member of the Top 20 pistol shots in the Department. He maintained the position for the remainder of his career.

When Fitch transferred to the Terre Haute Post, he was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to the Headquarters Vehicle Theft Section. He worked undercover in two "sting" operations, buying stolen vehicles from car thieves. He also had minor involvement in a third undercover "sting."

His book, which was written as fiction, is based on the factual "sting" investigations Fitch was assigned. The Indiana State Police and FBI conducted a joint investigation aimed at curtailing the incidence of vehicle theft and related murders in the Hammond and Gary area of Lake County in northwestern Indiana.

Over a three-year period, there had been more than 20 murders in the area related to the control of the distribution of stolen car parts to re-builders in the area.

The seven-month investigation resulted in the recovery of more than $2 million worth of stolen vehicles and the arrest of more than 60 suspects, all of which were convicted of vehicle theft.

"Badges and Badasses" is based on the events of his three-year undercover "sting," where he worked one-on-one against car thieves.

The "sting" involved purchasing stolen vehicles, including cars, trucks, motor homes and even car-carriers of new vehicles, at a warehouse front titled International Auto Brokers.

When a thief delivered a stolen vehicle to the warehouse, the complete transaction was videotaped and photographed secretly to use later for identification and prosecution.

During the investigation, an unexpected informant provided the opportunity for Fitch, whose character in the book is named "Joe Shields," to get next to a Chicago-syndicated connected career criminal who was suspected of 12 murders. His activities included the operation of a car-theft ring, prostitution and drug distribution.

The story portrays Fitch's first venture in undercover investigation working one-on-one, attempting to make a criminal case against a suspected murderer.

Fitch worked on the book for the past 15 years.

"It's something I thought was possible when we finished the 'sting,'" he said. "I thought, 'This would make a good book.' It's something I promised myself I would do before I passed on."

After retiring from the Indiana State Police, Fitch served as Sheriff of Sullivan County. He retired from law enforcement after serving as the Sullivan County Indiana Prosecutors Investigator, totaling almost 40 years in law enforcement.

Books may be purchased at the book signing Dec. 14, or online at badgesandbadasses.com.

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