Woman steals thousands from old, blind manPublished 1:20pm Friday, September 14, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — A 48-year-old Dowagiac woman who stole thousands of dollars from an 87-year-old blind man in order to support an out-of-control gambling habit received some leniency from Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge.
Lynnece Nelson was sentenced Friday to two years probation with the first 365 days to be served in the Cass County Jail. She gets credit for 150 days served.
The most serious count — using a computer to commit a property crime — carried a prison-only guideline range of 19 to 30 months.
Dodge said his decision to give Nelson a sentence below the guideline range was a “close call.” He gave several reasons for his decision.
One, Nelson had been an upstanding citizen prior to getting involved in gambling. She has been living in the same home for 26 years, raised three “upstanding” children, has been working at the same company for 18 years and taught Sunday school for several years at a local church.
Dodge also said Nelson is a completely different person than the woman he sentenced to probation in October for creating and passing counterfeit bills. Nelson was in denial of her gambling then, Dodge told the court, but has since accepted responsibility for her actions and gambling addiction.
“What has been happening in the last year is not really who you are,” Dodge said. “It is what you’ve done for the last year, but no who you are.”
Nelson told the court she began gambling three years ago. It started small, but quickly spiraled out of control, she said.
Nelson admitted to stealing the identity of the victim and using that person’s information to transfer money from his savings account to his checking account. She then withdrew money from his account to support her gambling habit. She said the victim was a friend she had known for many years.
“I just hope that people can accept my apology and give me a chance to prove I have changed,” she said.