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Archive for Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Caregiver guilty of scamming ex-judge

March 1, 2005

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A caregiver hired to help a retired judge and his wife pay their bills pleaded guilty Monday to scamming the Lawrence couple out of nearly $110,000.

Jolene J. Harrell, 45, Lawrence, pleaded to 23 counts of felony theft, two counts of misdemeanor theft and one count of welfare fraud. She faces up to 34 months in prison and will be sentenced March 29.

Harrell admitted stealing $109,441 from retired Judge Charles Rankin, 90, and his wife, Polly, 84, between April 2003 and June 2004 by writing their personal checks to herself and by taking their retirement and Medicare checks.

Harrell had been hired for $75 per day as the Rankins' assistant and had access to their bank accounts.

She also admitted stealing $12,274 in state welfare benefits from March to July 2003. According to the plea agreement, she wasn't eligible for assistance but falsified an application to get health care, child-care benefits and food stamps.

As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed not to charge Harrell with mistreatment of a dependent adult or forgery and agreed not to expand their investigation to look for thefts before April 2003.

Harrell agreed to pay $121,715 in restitution.

The case was prosecuted by the Kansas Attorney General's Office because it involved an allegation of Medicare theft.

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