Woman sentenced, fined on charge of obtaining property of vulnerable adult

February 27, 2012|By DON AINES |

HAGERSTOWN — When she entered an Alford plea in October, the state said it would not seek a prison sentence or restitution from Jackie Sue Carter on charges she stole thousands of dollars from a Hagerstown couple. But the agreement was not binding on the judge, and allowed relatives and friends of the deceased victims to argue for a prison sentence and restitution.

On Friday in Washington County Circuit Court, Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. sentenced Carter, 53, of Lancaster, Pa., to five years in prison and ordered her to pay $30,000 to the estate of the late Nelson and Betty Eshelman, court records show.

Carter will be on five years of supervised probation after her release, during which time Long ordered that she not work as a caregiver for children or vulnerable adults, court records show.

Carter entered the Alford plea to one felony count of obtaining the property of a vulnerable adult. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment that the state has sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

“There was a plea agreement, but it was clear in the agreement that we were not binding any of the victims to it,” Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Carranza said Friday after the sentencing.

A goddaughter of the Eshelmans, Pamela Darden, spoke on behalf of the estate, asking for incarceration and restitution, said Jill Ritter of the Victim Witness Unit of the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Nelson Eshelman died Jan. 11, 2009, and Betty Eshelman died in July 2010, according to charging documents filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. From Nelson Eshelman’s death until Feb. 22, 2010, Betty Eshelman’s accounts were reduced from more than $327,000 to about $69,000, the documents show.

Carter was employed by an in-home care company when she was assigned to the Eshelmans’ home in March 2008, charging documents show. She left the company in October 2008 to work privately for the couple and was given their power of attorney, the documents show.

The day after Nelson Eshelman’s death, Carter cashed in certificates of deposit valued at nearly $90,000, the charging documents show. Although her power of attorney was revoked in February 2009, she tried to get her name on the deed to Betty Eshelman’s home and continued to withdraw funds from Betty Eshelman’s accounts, charging documents show.

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