A Columbus woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in Delaware County Common Pleas Court and confessed to stealing items from assisted living facilities to support her drug habit over a period of eight years.
Susan Gwynne, 55, of Columbus, entered a guilty plea Wednesday afternoon to 46 counts of the 101 charges originally brought against her. At the hearing, she pleaded 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.
The plea was part of an agreement with prosecutors and in exchange the remaining 14 counts of burglary, 29 counts of theft and 12 counts of possessing criminal tools were dismissed.
At the hearing, Gwynne told Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley that she had been working as a nurse at an assisted living facility in 2004 when she began to steal items from patients’ rooms to support her cocaine habit.
Gwynne said she was later fired after her drug use and theft were discovered. She continued to go to facilities in Delaware County and Franklin County in her nurse’s uniform and would steal items like cash and jewelry from rooms.
Gwynne said this continued until her arrest earlier this year with a brief period of time in 2010 and 2011 when she held a job as a home-healthcare worker and didn’t need to steal.
“I’m sorry I can’t recall all of them,” Gwynne told Gormley. “It’s been a shock to me that I let this go on.”
Gwynne said she did return some items to individuals if they had sentimental value. Gwynne maintained she has no idea how much money she’s made from selling the items.
Gormley accepted her plea and detailed the potential sentences she faces from each charge.
He said the burglary charges carry penalties of between two to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000; the third-degree theft charges carry between six and 36 months in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; the fourth degree theft charges carry between six to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Gormley said the misdemeanors carry up to 180 days in jail.
Many of the charges carry specification stipulating that the victims were older than 65 when Gwynne stole from them. Prosecutors said the oldest victim was 101.
Gormley also ordered a pre-sentencing investigation be conducted into Gwynne before her sentencing.
Assistant Delaware County Prosecutor Amelia Bean-DeFlumer said the 46 charges correspond to the 46 named victims in the indictment.
Before Gormley could schedule a sentencing hearing, Bean-DeFlumer asked that he schedule it far in advance because many of the victims would like to speak at the hearing. Gormley then scheduled the sentencing for Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m.
Gwynne was originally scheduled to begin trial on Sept. 27. She was in the Delaware County Jail Wednesday afternoon awaiting her sentencing.
At earlier hearings 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 had been recovered from area pawn shops.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.