The attorney representing a woman accused of stealing more than 3,000 items from nursing homes said Monday that his client has become more “amenable” to a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Susan Gwynne, 55, of Columbus, is facing 101 charges including theft, burglary and receiving stolen property in Delaware County Common Pleas Court and is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 27.
Gwynne is charged with 31 counts of burglary, which are second-degree felonies; 43 felony counts of theft; 12 counts of possessing criminal tools, which are fifth-degree felonies; and 15 counts of receiving stolen property, which are first-degree misdemeanors. She is alleged to have dressed like a health-care worker and gone into nursing homes in Delaware and Franklin counties and stolen from residents.
Gwynne appeared in court Monday for a hearing where Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley asked Delaware County Prosecutor, Carol O’Brien and Gwynne’s public defender, David Birch for an update on the status of the case.
O’Brien said the state had extended a plea agreement to Birch and Gwynne to avoid a trial and get the matter resolved. O’Brien detailed the potential agreement: Gwynne would plead guilty to 17 counts of burglary, second-degree felonies; four counts of theft, third-degree felonies; 10 counts of theft, fourth-degree felonies and 15 counts of receiving stolen property, first-degree misdemeanors.
O’Brien said if Gwynne took the deal, the prosecutors would ask that the remaining 55 charges be dismissed and prosecutors and Birch would jointly recommend 20 years in prison.
“We want to make sure that the defendant pleads guilty to one count for each victim,” O’Brien said.
Birch said that Gwynne had not been interested in making a plea agreement since the case started. However, Birch said she had indicated to him earlier to day that she may be amenable to the idea.
Birch said if the matter was to go to trial he would have “many, many, many hours of preparation” before he’d be ready. However, he did not ask for a continuance and said if there’s no deal he will take the case to trial.
O’Brien asked that Birch notify her office by the end of the week if Gwynne accepts the deal so the prosecutor’s office doesn’t purchase airplane tickets for witnesses who travel from out of state.
The trial was still scheduled for Sept. 27 Monday afternoon and would take at least a week.
Gwynne was in the Delaware County Jail Monday afternoon.
Prosecutors say Gwynne stole more than than 3,000 items from 13 assisted living facilities in Delaware and Franklin counties over the past eight years. The items were recovered after a search warrant was executed at Gwynne’s home on March 26. She was indicted by a Delaware County grand jury on June 15.
Prosecutors said most of the crime scenes are in Franklin County. The Delaware County assisted living facilities affected were The Inn at Olentangy Trail and Abbington of Powell.
Stolen items included cash, credit cards and Social Security cards. Prosecutors said at Gwynne’s arraignment that several stolen items were also recovered from area pawn shops.
Prosecutors said that since the initial report, other victims have come forward. Prosecutors said the indictment lists 31 victims who are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. The oldest victim is 101 years old.
The indictment alleges that Gwynne has been stealing from victims since April 2008. The last theft was in March 2016, court documents indicate. Deputies report that investigators learned of the previous crimes while investigating the 2016 thefts.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.