A Westerville woman was sentenced Friday to two years of probation and ordered to pay restitution to two elderly neighbors from whom she stole money.
Cheryl Ann Hartzell, 58, of 6599 Sunbury Road, Westerville, was in Delaware County Common Pleas Court to be sentenced by Judge David Gormley after she was convicted of identity fraud from an elderly person and theft from an elderly person.
Hartzell’s attorney, Chad Hemminger, told Gormley that Hartzell had paid the full amount of restitution, a sum of $26,787, in advance of the sentencing.
Court documents say that Hartzell had power of attorney and was managing finances for an elderly couple living in her neighborhood and that, between July 11, 2013, and Aug. 4, 2014, Hartzell used her neighbors’ bank account to pay her own bills.
After hearing that restitution had been paid, assistant county prosecutor Andrew Bigler said prosecutors would not make any recommendations on sentencing. Hemminger then asked Gormley to sentence Hartzell to community control, the minimum sentence for the charges.
Gormley heard the recommendations from both attorneys and asked if Hartzell wanted to make a statement.
“I made a terrible mistake,” Hartzell said. “I take full responsibility for it. I pray every day for forgiveness.”
Gormley imposed a sentence of two years of “community control” and said Hartzell will face a fine and potential prison time if she violates the terms of community control.
Hemminger said that Hartzell and the elderly couple were very close and had been neighbors for 17 years. Hemminger said that they were practically family and that Hartzell and her husband took responsibility for feeding, bathing and caring for the couple.
Gormley called the circumstances of the crime “terribly sad” but said Hartzell had taken responsibility for her actions.
Hartzell was originally indicted on May 22 and charged with identity fraud, a second-degree felony; telecommunications fraud, a third-degree felony; and theft, a third-degree felony.
Hartzell originally pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on July 1 but later changed pleaded guilty to identity fraud from an elderly person and theft from an elderly person, lesser included offenses of the identity fraud and theft charges.
The telecommunications fraud charge was dropped as part of plea negotiations with prosecutors.