By Aaron Gibson – News Democrat
A Georgetown mother and daughter were recently convicted and sentenced in Brown County Common Pleas Court for a fraud against four elderly victims exceeding $95,000.
Prosecutors alleged Shannin Donaldson and her daughter Amanda Stevens defrauded their victims over a series of months between autumn of 2014 and spring of 2015, claiming the two needed money to settle a legal battle regarding a probate estate.
The two women were indicted in Nov. 2015 on several felony counts of theft.
On April 17, Donaldson accepted a plea deal dismissing all but one count of theft from a person in a protected class, a second-degree felony.
Judge Scott T. Gusweiler handed Donaldson a prison sentence of 4 years with a mandatory three years of post-release control. Donaldson will be credited with 56 days for jail time already served.
Gusweiler further ruled Donaldson must pay a total of $89,127 in restitution to three of the victims and their estates.
On April 21, Stevens also accepted a plea deal dismissing all but one count of theft from a person in a protected class, amended to a felony of the fourth degree.
Gusweiler handed Stevens a sentence of two years of community control and ordered Stevens to pay $32,296 in restitution to four of the victims and their estates.
Gusweiler further ruled all of Stevens’ restitution to be paid joint and several with Donaldson, with the exception of $7,950.
According to an affidavit filed in Brown County Municipal Court, Donaldson and Stevens were working as caregivers for the victims during the course of the scheme.
The mother-and-daughter allegedly kept asking for loans and promised to repay the victims through an inheritance they would receive after the court case involving the probate estate was settled.
However, the victims eventually became suspicious and learned the probate estate did not exist when they brought the matter to the attention of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, the affidavit says.
During the preliminary investigation, lead detective Rick Haney estimated the amount stolen from the four elderly victims in the hundreds of thousands.
The Brown County Prosecutor’s Office then brought in a forensic accountant from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to follow the money trail and pinpoint the exact dollar amount of cash and property stolen.
After tracking bank withdrawals, credit card usage and the sale of property, the BCI accountant determined Donaldson and Stevens together defrauded the victims of approximately $97,077.
All four victims of Donaldson and Stevens’ scheme belong to the same extended family.
Two of the victims, John Fuss and Thelma Pope, have passed away.