Hagerstown man pleads guilty to financially exploiting 93-year-old women

June 07, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

A Hagerstown man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court to a felony theft charge for the financial exploitation of an elderly woman and now must pay her back, a judge ordered.

Anthony Eugene Barnhart, 48, had been taking thousands of dollars from a 93-year-old woman in exchange for maintaining her lawn, but the victim's property had not been properly maintained, an adult protective services worker told police.

The woman's property was less than half an acre.

At one point, Barnhart was receiving checks from the woman on a weekly or daily basis, according to court records.

The woman was paying Barnhart more per month than she received from Social Security, which was her primary source of income, according to records.

Barnhart told police he had done major landscaping for the woman, but could not explain what the landscaping had entailed, an investigator wrote in charging documents.


Between January and August 2007, Barnhart cashed $11,675.05 in checks from the woman, according to a statement of charges filed by Washington County Sheriff's Department Investigator Tara Little.

Barnhart was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was suspended, and ordered to pay restitution to the woman.

He paid $5,500 in restitution Wednesday, and must pay $4,500 while he is on a three-year probation, nine months of which will be supervised.

Prosecutors did not oppose the suspended sentence because Barnhart was able to pay more than half of the restitution Wednesday, and because a trial could have been difficult for the elderly woman, Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said Friday afternoon.

The state's attorney's office was working to assist victims of elder abuse, both physical and financial, Michael said.

"We are here to help them, here to make them whole," he said.

Phone numbers for assistance

If you or someone you know may be the victim of elder abuse, contact the Department of Social Services at 240-420-2155 during the day or 240-420-2222 after business hours.

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