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Babysitter's daughter steals $700,000 from aging mother, forcing her to live with assisted living facility • Daily Montanan

Babysitter's daughter steals 0,000 from aging mother, forcing her to live with assisted living facility • Daily Montanan
Babysitter's daughter steals 0,000 from aging mother, forcing her to live with assisted living facility • Daily Montanan

 


The daughter and caretaker of an elderly Lewistown woman who stole more than $700,000 from her mother, forcing her to sell her home and move into an assisted living facility, was sentenced Friday to more than four years in prison.

Roxanna Rae Lewis-Stella, 60, of Billings, pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana.

U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said all cases involving elder fraud and abuse are disgusting, but they are especially heinous when committed by a family member.

It shocks the conscience that after a lifetime of love from her mother, Lewis-Stella, when her vulnerable mother needed her the most, stole so much money from her that her mother had to sell her house to move into an assisted living facility, Laslovich said. .

While serving as her mother's primary caretaker, Lewis-Stella forged approximately 70 checks, impersonated her mother on the phone with banks, and intercepted mailed bank statements before her mother could see them. Her mother was almost entirely dependent on Lewis-Stella for her care, which the government said made her an even more vulnerable victim due to her advanced age.

She also stole and pawned a 100-ounce silver bar from her mother, used her father's credit cards after his death to rack up $14,000 in charges for personal expenses, and stole and forged a check. $12,505 life insurance written to her husband's son, according to the court. documents.

The government said Lewis-Stella spent the stolen money on clothing, travel, entertainment, restaurants, online shopping, cosmetic procedures and tattoos.

Lewis-Stella's mother had to sell her house and move into an assisted living facility after realizing the money was missing.

In court documents, the government said Lewis-Stella's crimes were extremely serious.

The defendant, motivated solely by greed, positioned herself to access her family's funds and then exploited the trust placed in her, the government said.

It was not the first time Lewis-Stella had committed fraud, with court documents detailing how in 1994 she withdrew credit cards in the names of friends she had fallen out with, charging more than $6,400 $. A few years later, she picked up a $7,500 check from a friend's bank account and wrote worthless checks for nearly $9,000.

Lewis-Stella's brother said he didn't believe she was capable of rehabilitation, according to court documents.

I believe that the best thing for society and for her, really for her, is for her to be placed under the guardianship of the state and remanded for some form of detention for as long as possible within the limits of the law, he said, as noted in the sentencing memo.

The government said a significant sentence in this case would deter Lewis-Stella from committing similar crimes in the future and deter others who may also be inclined to commit similar crimes.

Lewis-Stella was sentenced to four years in prison, the longest the state recommended for her sentence.

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