August 1, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
SENTENCED FOR STEALING
FROM ELDERLY GALENA MAN
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today the sentencing of
Margaret Wilson, 69, of Morgnec Cutoff in Chestertown, on her conviction
for stealing money from her 90-year-old employer. Kent County Circuit
Court Judge J. Frederick Price sentenced Wilson, who had been employed
as the victim's housekeeper, to one year in jail, suspending all
but one month of the sentence, to be served at the Kent County Detention
Center. Wilson was further ordered to pay the maximum fine of $2,000
and was placed on three years of supervised probation.
had been convicted in mid-June of stealing two sizeable checks,
in the amounts of $50,000 and $950, from H. Lee Russell, now deceased,
of Galena, Maryland. The thefts occurred in July 2001, around the
time that Russell was hospitalized on an emergency basis, due to
severe dehydration and emaciation. At the time of his admission
to the hospital, Russell weighed only 88 pounds. He was completely
unresponsive, and was unable to either answer the doctors' questions
or sign any of the necessary consent forms.
evidence at trial showed that Wilson took advantage of Russell's
deteriorating physical and mental health, and wrote the two checks
to herself on Russell's account at People's Bank. The signature
on the $50,000 check was completely illegible; nevertheless, Wilson
was able to negotiate it by depositing it in an account at a bank
in Delaware. She then tried to obtain control over what remained
in Mr. Russell's account, by asking People's Bank to send someone
out to Russell's farm to execute a Power of Attorney. When they
saw Russell's deplorable condition, they insisted on a competency
exam by a physician. The bank officials testified at the trial that
Russell was in such bad shape that he looked dead. Wilson thereupon
took Russell - who could not walk or speak - to Dr. Paul Katz, a
physician in Cecilton, for such an examination. Dr. Katz took one
look at Russell and ordered him to be taken immediately to the emergency
room at Union Hospital in Elkton. Russell was admitted to the hospital
that night and died there three weeks later.
wrote herself the $950 check on July 13, 2001, a day after Russell
had been admitted to the hospital, and presented it for payment
that night. Although signed with Mr. Russell's name, the court found
that Russell could not have signed it in light of his non-responsive
state upon admission to the hospital one day earlier.
matter had been referred to the Attorney General's Office by the
Kent County State's Attorney and the Kent County Department of Social
Services, Adult Protective Services. It was investigated by the
Maryland State Police and the Criminal Investigations Division of
the Attorney General's Office.
announcing the sentence, Attorney General Curran stated "Mr.
Russell had no relatives and no one else in the world except his
housekeeper, upon whom he was completely dependent, and she violated
his trust by stealing from him in the last days of his life. I applaud
the quick action of the Department of Social Services in investigating
and referring this case for criminal prosecution."