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For Immediate Release
June 20, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

HOUSEKEEPER CONVICTED OF STEALING CHECKS
FROM ELDERLY GALENA MAN

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. and Kent County State's Attorney Robert H. Strong, Jr., jointly announced today that Maragaret Wilson,68, of Chestertown, was convicted Thursday by Kent County Circuit Court Judge Frederick Price of stealing a $50,000 check and a $950.00 check from an elderly man in her care.

Wilson was charged in December 2002, with stealing the checks from H. Lee Russell, now deceased, of Galena, Maryland. The thefts are alleged to have occurred between April and July, 2001. Russell died the following month, on August 10, 2001, at the age of 90. Wilson was also charged with failing to file State income tax returns for the years 1999 through 2001.

"Financial exploitation of the elderly is a serious problem and one which my Office commits significant resources to combat," Attorney General Curran said. "Sadly, often it is a family member or ‘friend' of the victim who is preying on his or her vulnerability."

Sentencing has been set for August 1, 2003. The maximum sentence for felony theft is 15 years and a $1,000 fine. The maximum for failure to file a State income tax return is five years and a $10,000 fine. The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The matter had been referred to the Attorney General's Office by the Kent County Department of Social Services, Adult Protective Services.

While the Office continues to aggressively prosecute cases of financial exploitation, it also utilizes educational strategies to combat the abuse. In 2000, Attorney General Curran developed project SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation), a public-private partnership that trains personnel in financial institutions how to detect and report evidence of financial exploitation.

For more information on Project SAFE and avoiding becoming a victim of financial exploitation, log on to the Attorney General's web site, www.oag.state.md.us and click on publications.

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