NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


June 6, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

FORMER CATHOLIC CHARITIES WORKER SENTENCED FOR STEALING FROM INCAPACITATED CLIENTS

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Wanda Wilson, 53, was sentenced in Baltimore City Circuit Court on her felony theft conviction to five years in prison, with all but nine months suspended. Judge David Mitchell also ordered Wilson to pay full restitution to Associated Catholic Charities and placed Wilson on probation for three years after she finishes serving the nine months jail sentence. Wilson had earlier pled guilty to stealing $14,400 from eight of her vulnerable adult clients.

In connection with her employment with Associated Catholic Charities, a public welfare organization that provides services to vulnerable adults in Baltimore Cityís Adult Protective Services program., Wilson managed the finances and bank accounts of approximately 12 elderly and/or demented individuals. Wilson admitted to stealing the clientsí social security and pension benefits by writing checks to cash and purchasing personal items with client checks and ATM withdrawals. The thefts began in 1997 and continued into 1999, when they were discovered and Wilson resigned from the agency.

When the thefts were discovered by Catholic Charities, they conducted an internal audit and referred the matter to authorities. The charges grew out of a joint investigation by the Department of Human Resourcesí Inspector Generalís Office, Curranís Criminal Investigations Division and the Inspector Generalís Office of the Social Security Administration.

In imposing sentence, the Honorable David Mitchell told Wilson, "You do not take from those who cannot protect themselves. It is the responsibility of this court to punish and to send the message further than this room.."

Judge Mitchell denied Wilsonís request to delay surrendering herself to the jail and directed that she surrender immediately.

In announcing the sentencing, Curran stated that the investigation is one of several his office is conducting as part of an office-wide initiative to protect the rights of senior citizens. He stressed his role in representing the most vulnerable of victims of both physical and financial abuse - namely, the elderly and the sick. The initiative has already led to the conviction of a Dorchester County social worker, Johanne Nibblett, for stealing money from four of her Adult Protective Services clients, and a conviction in Prince Georgeís County of an adult care provider who stole the welfare benefits and food stamps of a vulnerable adult in her care. Curran indicated that he expects additional cases to be filed in other jurisdictions in the near future.

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