WILLIAMSBURG, Va - On October 2, 2013, A Newport News woman named Patricia Q. Sutton, 46, was arrested for stealing money from a 81-year-old dementia patient that was entrusted to her care as an employee at Morningside Assisted Living Facility in Williamsburg. She was originally charged with four counts of “financial exploitation of mentally incapacitated persons” and credit card theft.
Sutton entered an Alford plea, which means that although there is enough evidence to establish her as guilty, she still refuses to admit that she is. In fact, Sutton’s defense attorney, Fernando Groene stated “she felt that the victim agreed to help her because of her hardship...she felt that (victim) was giving her the money."
Shortly after the elderly victim passed away in September 2013, her daughter discovered several suspicious transactions on her mother’s bank account statements.
Photo Credit: WTKR
A criminal complaint filed in court showed that Sutton was using the victim’s check and debit card for personal transactions while she was in a medically-induced coma. The bank statements revealed she made an $800 check out to herself along with other transactions, including $248.44 for an electric bill and $289.00 for a car payment. According to police, she had stolen more than $2,000 from the victim’s checking account for a three month period (June to September 2013).
Officer Donnie Borst of James City Police Department testified at Sutton’s preliminary hearing and told the court that he conducted the investigation after the victim’s death. He admitted finding several transactions made by Sutton for fast food restaurants, gas stations, big box stores, supermarkets and rent.
According to the criminal complaint, Sutton told police she had given all the money to the victim after cashing her check and that she had given her permission to make all the transactions. Police asked Sutton about the victim’s medical condition and she told police that she was of sound mind the entire time. However, police interviewed other nurses at the facility that said the 81-year-old had “difficulty mentally” and often forgot where she was, thus calling 911 for assistance.
Sutton was released from Morningside Assisted Living Facility.
On July 10, 2014, Circuit Court Judge William Hamblen sentenced Sutton to five years for only one count of financial exploitation of a mentally incapacitated person. He suspended four years and 11 months of the sentence, leaving Sutton to serve only one month in prison. The other three counts, including credit card theft were dropped.