Caretaker Sentenced For Ripping Off 91-Year Old Client

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When we first met Leonard Onesty last October he was still reeling from the betrayal of the woman he had trusted with his care and his money for the past two years.

"Disgusted and busted, that's all I can tell you," he said at the time.

Now 91, this World War 2 vet was mentally sharp, but having just lost a leg, he was mostly bedridden and dependent on Sherry Crawford.

She kept him, he said, isolated from friends and family. When people would call to check on him, she'd tell them he was sleeping or hint he had dementia.

She disconnected the phones in his Sun Valley home and, he says, never left him alone when they left the house, at last until the day she dropped him off for an appointment at the V-A Hospital and disappeared.

She told him she was going for a walk while he saw the doctor. Three hours later he was still waiting for her.

"She didn't show up and I started to worry about it and said, 'what is this?'"

He was about to find out. Checking with his bank later that day he would learn he had all of $60 dollars left, along with a pile of bills she had told him she'd paid.

Investigators would later put his total loss at $119-thousand dollars.
Thursday in District Judge Jerry Polaha's court, thief and victim met again.

Crawford had been arrested in Missouri after someone reading our story on line tipped off police. She was extradited to face a charge of exploitation of a vulnerable person, a felony.

In a written statement she said she accepted responsibility for her actions, which she blamed on a gambling addiction, and said she was sorry.

Honesty was sitting a few feet away in his wheelchair.

"He can't hear you," said the judge.

Crawford turned briefly in Onesty's direction., "I'd like to apologize to you," was all she said.

Then it was Onesty's turn to tell the judge in his story. For several minutes he told Polaha how the theft had impacted his life and financial security.

"I've never been treated like this," he said.

Polaha rejected Crawford's contention that it was a gambling addiction that caused her theft.

"What you did was bad," he said. "It's worse than robbing a bank.

Polaha’s sentence was 15 years. Crawford will serve a minimum of six.

Onesty is left to start all over again vindicated, but financially wounded.

"Anything I didn't ask you that you want to say?" I asked him./

"I want to thank you people for putting me on television and showing people what a good guy I am. And I am.

I never cheated anyone. I never cheated anyone in my life. I'm proud of that."

Onesty doesn't expect he will ever been repaid, but at age 91 he's rebuilding. He says today he's current on all the bills she left behind unpaid and he has nearly $3,000 in the bank.

Sadly, Division of Aging Services officials say they see a lot of cases of abuse and exploitation and say one of the first warning signs is if the person is being kept isolated from friends and family.