Senior Caretaker Accused Of Stealing Money From Miami Senior Couple
A senior caretaker has been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a senior couple in her care. The indictment says that Sherry Lynn Smith stole upwards of $300,000 from the couple after accessing their bank accounts. According to authorities, Smith was responsible for helping the couple pay for their expenses, a task which required that she have authorized access to their bank account. However, she diverted funds from the couple’s bank account into her own bank account, which is obviously theft.
While the theft itself is illegal, the defendant also committed several illegal acts to affect the theft. This included forging the victims’ signatures on checks that were made payable to herself, initiated Zelle transfers from their bank account to hers, and used the couple’s bank account to pay off their credit cards.
As a result, Smith will face 16 individual counts of bank fraud and 5 counts of aggravated identity theft. You don’t have to be a mathematician to deduce that a guilty verdict on those charges will result in a life sentence. Below, we’ll see how it breaks down.
Bank fraud and aggravated identity theft
The maximum penalty for bank fraud is 30 years behind bars. However, the base crime, regardless of aggravating or mitigating factors, has an offense level between 6 and 36 meaning that an average penalty is somewhere between probation and 33 months behind bars in federal prison.
Will this woman receive probation? No, she will not. Probation is rare in federal fraud cases and rarer still when there are substantial aggravating factors like the consistent theft of a client’s resources. The average sentence for fraud of this kind is between 20 months and 2 years. 16 individual counts give us 32 years in federal prison.
Aggravated identity theft is a rider claim which adds an additional two years to the sentence. Five counts mean an additional 10 years, so the minimum likely sentence for this offense could be decades in prison.
Defenses to bank fraud
In most cases, people find themselves in trouble financially and then do something ill-considered as an attempt to remedy the situation. COVID caused a lot of financial hardship and a lot of economic suffering, but there were also ample government programs that supplemented the income of those in trouble. Stealing the money from elderly people was never an option. In many cases like this, you hear defendants say that they meant to pay the money back, but they never got the chance. That too is not a defense. While the most common defense to bank fraud is a lack of intent (you must intentionally commit fraud), the defendant abused her position to exploit the couple, so it’s difficult to see how she might claim she was acting in good faith.
Talk to a Florida Federal Defense Attorney Today
If you’re facing federal charges, call the Tampa criminal attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.