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Woman put on probation, ordered to pay restitution for stealing from elderly woman

Paula K. Sandy pleaded guilty in November to two counts of obtaining the property of a vulnerable adult

February 16, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A Washington County Circuit Court judge Wednesday placed a Hagerstown woman on probation and ordered her to finish paying more than $30,000 in restitution for stealing from an elderly woman for whom she provided care.

Paula K. Sandy, 56, of 816 Antietam Drive, Hagerstown, pleaded guilty in November to two counts of obtaining the property of a vulnerable adult, according to court records. Her sentencing had been delayed at that time to determine the amount of restitution to be paid, Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said.

Sandy had pleaded guilty to using her power of attorney for the late Carol L. Sheldon of Hagerstown to take the money in 2009, including cashing in annuities, $16,000 of which were used for the purchase of a car, Cirincion said Wednesday. Sandy also used about $1,400 on tips jars, she said.

Sandy paid more than $17,000 in restitution at the time her plea was entered.

Additional questionable spending, including loans to Sandy's daughter and the purchase of collectible Longaberger baskets, amounted to another $13,818.96 in restitution due Sheldon's estate, Cirincion told Judge W. Kennedy Boone III.

Sheldon did not want Sandy to be jailed, but "the state's position is entirely different .... This is the worst kind of theft," Cirincion said.

"The defendant was one of the beneficiaries of the will," Cirincion said. "But as happens in power of attorney cases over and over again, they can't wait for the person to die."

"Most people granted a power of attorney have little understanding of the fiduciary duties that come with that," defense attorney Edward Button told Boone. Button said Sandy's bookkeeping for Sheldon was "atrocious."

Button said it was unfair to compare Sandy's case to that of Kelli Fae Marie White, a nurse sentenced last week to five years in state prison for stealing more than $80,000 from the late businessman, Nick Giannaris.

"The state believes this is in some ways worse, because a duty was breached .... It was a relationship of trust," Cirincion said after the sentencing.

Sandy worked for Sheldon for many years, providing care to Sheldon's mother in the 1980s, Button said.

"In her heart, she felt she didn't hurt Ms. Sheldon," Button said, asking Boone to impose home detention.

Boone imposed a three-year state prison sentence, suspending all but six months of home detention. He placed Sandy on probation for two years, ordering her to pay $500 a month to Sheldon's estate.

"Restitution is the big issue as far as this court is concerned," Boone said.

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