Janet Mastronardi, 54, of 76 Goodwin St., reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and was sentenced by Superior Court Justice Walter R. Stone to seven years in prison with 30 months home confinement.
Fifty-four of those months were suspended with probation, which means Mastronardi, who allegedly bilked an 80-year-old woman she was given power of attorney over out of $129,107.57, will avoid spending time at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston.
Prosecutors had argued for for some time spent in jail, "but the court agreed with the defense request for home confinement in consideration of the defendant paying full restitution," Attorney General Peter F. Kilmarin said in a release.
Mastronardi was arrested after a State Police investigation concluded that she stole the money from the woman beginning in 2005 after she was given power of attorney and eventually, was appointed guardian.
The victim, identified as Jane Jacques, was suffering from deteriorating health and didn't have nearby family to take care of her.
In 2010, an employee of Mastronardi noticed "financial irregularities" while preparing a report of Ms. Jacques' finances for Probate Court.
"Specifically, it appeared as though Mastronardi was double billing Ms. Jacques for services rendered in conjunction with the guardianship," Kilmartin said.
That employee called the state police, who launched an investigation that led to the charges.
“Many elders rely on others they think they can trust to handle their financial affairs, only to be robbed of their hard-earned money. In some cases, the perpetrator leaves the victim penniless. Financial exploitation of elders is one of the most challenging charges to investigate and prosecute,” Kilmartin said.
To address these hurdles, the General Assembly passed and Governor Chafee signed a bill filed at the request of Attorney General Kilmartin that increases the statute of limitations for elder exploitation from three years to ten years. This initiative recognizes the complexities of financial crimes and the challenges of protecting a population that may have physical and mental limitations by extending the statute of limitations. Now, law enforcement has reasonable time to investigate a case in preparation for charging and prosecution.
“Like other forms of abuse, elder abuse is a complex problem and it is easy for people to have misconceptions about it. Many people who hear ‘elder abuse and neglect’ think about older people living in nursing homes or about elderly relatives who live all alone and never have visitors. But elder abuse is not just a problem of older people we never see. It is right in our midst, and as Attorney General, I am committed to doing all I can to protect all of the citizens of our state,” continued Kilmartin.
Detective Sergeant Robert Creamer and Investigator Gerard Ratigan of the Rhode Island State Police led the investigation. Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division Maureen Keough prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.