W.Va. man accused of bilking $64,000 from elderly woman is sentenced

July 18, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man accused of bilking more than $64,000 from an elderly woman for tree removal and other property improvements was sentenced Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court to one to 10 years in prison.

Charles E. Siford II, 26, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., pleaded guilty moments before he was sentenced to one felony count of fraudulent scheme in an indictment that was returned by a grand jury in February.

Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes also ordered Siford to pay $62,375 in restitution to the victim, now 88.

The judge noted that he was obligated to reduce the original amount Siford received from the victim by $1,900 for the value of work that was actually done.  

The woman was at the beginning stages of losing mental function when she fell victim to Siford, who committed a crime that “shocks the conscience,” Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Timothy D. Helman said.

Between June and October 2010, the victim wrote multiple checks to Siford, who took money from what was supposed to be her “nest egg,” according to Helman.

The woman has since moved to an assisted-living facility, said Helman, who asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.

After the hearing, Helman said the state agreed not to pursue recidivist action against Siford as part of a plea agreement.

With four prior felony convictions, Siford could have faced a more substantial sentence for being a repeat offender, according to Helman.

Another felony conviction could ultimately result in a life sentence, Wilkes said after deciding to impose the prison term.

“With a record like that, I don’t think anyone will give you a break,” Wilkes said.

If Siford earns day-for-day credit for good behavior while behind bars, he could be released after serving five years, in accordance with state sentencing guidelines, according to Helman.

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