Casper Woman Gets Prison For Stealing From Vulnerable Adult
Tamara Voelker deserved prison for taking advantage of an 89-year-old man, draining his bank account of nearly $44,000, and spending it on her bills, e-books, cosmetics and jewelry, District Attorney Mike Blonigen said Friday.
''Miss Voelker acted like a vulture to move in and pick the bones," Blonigen said at her sentencing.
The victim trusted her with the money he saved to live the last years of his life in dignity, he said. "She (took) the last vestige of his self respect."
Voelker pleaded guilty in April to one count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult. In exchange for her plea, the prosecution agreed to dismiss one count of theft.
Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins agreed with Blonigen, and disagreed with the recommendation of the probation and parole office that she be given probation.
Sullins sentenced Voelker to two-and-a-half to eight years of imprisonment for her conviction of exploitation of a vulnerable adult, ordered her to pay back what she stole from the victim over 15 months, and recommended she undergo substance abuse rehabilitation after her release from custody.
The original amount reported missing was $48,471.30. But Casper Police detective Shannon Daley said during testimony at the sentencing that about $4,650 of that had been Voelker's money she deposited in the victim's account, which brought the total to $43,821.30.
Sullins also agreed she deserved prison because of the seriousness of the crime, Voelker's background with a history of prescription drug abuse that included a felony conviction, and the message that needed to be sent to discourage those who would take advantage of vulnerable adults.
Before Sullins handed down the sentence, Voelker admitted mismanaging some money, but expressed her affection for the victim.
"I'm grateful for his love," she said. "He's a wonderful man who I will love for the rest of my life."
Voelker had asked him to move in with her so they could share expenses, adding his children should have done more to care for him.
The case began April 12, 2016, when the victim's daughter-in-law reported to police that he victim had her was having financial troubles, so she and her family looked at his financial records
The victim told police Voelker befriended him several years earlier and then became his “caregiver” after his wife died.
He also may have had dementia, according test administered by the Wyoming Department of Family Services, though he had not been examined or diagnosed by a doctor at the time.
A thorough audit of his finances determined that she took at least $48,471.30 from the him from Jan. 13, 2015 through April 30, 2016.
Voelker “recklessly and intentionally obtained control through undue influence” over the victim — “a vulnerable adult” — money and assets, “with the intention of permanently depriving him of the ownership, use and benefit of his money," according to court records.