Niles woman sentenced for scamming widowerPublished 9:04am Tuesday, April 13, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
The Niles mother who pleaded guilty to swindling an 88-year-old widower out of $5,000 was sentenced in Berrien County Court Monday to probation.
Judge Scott Schoefield told Bettye Turnbo, 44, a promise made by the court that could have kept her from serving jail time would be retracted, giving her a chance to change her guilty plea.
Addressing the court, Turnbo said she chose to keep her plea but said she’d considered changing it to not guilty, indicating there might have been another individual involved in the credit card fraud that led to her arrest along with her daughter, Christina, 27.
Turnbo was portrayed by her defense to be not “as sophisticated as she’s been portrayed to be.”
The court heard allegations that Christina Turnbo and the alleged other individual had played a bigger role in the crime.
Christina was extradited back to Michigan from Elkhart last week and immediately bonded out. She was charged with larceny false pretense over $1,000. Her mother pleaded guilty to larceny false pretense over $1,000.
Both victims in this investigation had recently lost their spouses and unknown individuals had called them and represented themselves as either members of some type of banking intuitions or credit card companies.
“I want to apologize and make amends to the victim,” Turnbo said as she addressed the court.
“I don’t mean to be disrespectful by saying this,” Schoefield said, “but what you’re selling I’m not buying … you cheated an 88-year-old recently widowed man out of $5,000.
“Somebody once said … we are judged by how we treat the weakest, most vulnerable or helpless among us,” he continued. “You failed that test. You failed miserably.”
Schoefiled sentenced Turnbo to three years probation, 90 of those days to be served at the Berrien County Jail with credit for two days and 90 days on tether following her release.
Turnbo was also ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation, ordered to have no contact with the victim and pay restitution and fees in the amount of $7,110.
Turnbo was taken directly from the courtroom into custody to begin serving her sentence.