Moraga caretaker gets 33-month prison term for defrauding couple with early dementia of $363,322

OAKLAND — A Bay Area woman was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and ordered to pay back $363,322 she stole from an elderly couple while she cared for them, prosecutors said.

Heidi Suzanne Miller was sentenced Thursday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, at the same court hearing where Miller pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge. Miller’s attorney wrote in court papers that Miller “actually had great fondness” for the couple and takes full responsibility for what she did.

Federal prosecutors charged Miller last year, writing in court documents that she used the money for Disneyland trips, Princess cruises, gifts for her five pets, and breast augmentation surgery from a plastic surgeon in Lafayette. The fraud covered a three-year period beginning in 2016, authorities said.

The victims, known in court records only as LB and CB, were in their 70s and suffering from early stages of dementia, assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Walsh wrote in a court memo asking for a 37-month prison term.

“Miller took advantage of her position of trust and responsibility caring for the older couple suffering from early-stage dementia,” Walsh wrote. “She used her employment to gain access to and use L.B.’s and C.B.’s bank accounts, credit cards accounts, and retirement accounts without authorization.”

Miller’s lawyer, Annie Beles, requested a 24-month term, writing in court records that Millers’ offenses occurred while she was deep in “alcohol addiction” and that she was given access to the couple’s financial records and never told not to assist with paying the bills. She quoted Miller’s own words in a pre-sentencing interview acknowledging she “took advantage” of vulnerable people, but Beles wrote it wasn’t obvious the couple was cognitively impaired.

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“It was not explained to Ms. Miller that they were in the ‘early stages of dementia,’ nor was it readily apparent at the initation of her employment,” Beles wrote. “Ms. Miller knew that LB and CB were aging and had some lapses in memory — but her perception was not initially that they were truly cognitively impaired.”

After he prison sentence, Miller will be on federal supervised release for three years, prosecutors said.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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