UNION — A former Monroe County bank vice president was sentenced Monday to 1 to 10 years behind bars for financially exploiting an elderly woman.
Betty B. Brown, former senior vice president at First National Bank of Peterstown, had earlier pleaded no contest to the felony of financial exploitation of an elderly person in an agreement with the state. In return for the plea, the state dropped a second felony charge, alleging embezzlement by misuse of a power of attorney or other fiduciary relationship.
Brown’s victim was 99-year-old Isadora “Dora” Beavers, who is now a resident of a Rich Creek, Va., nursing home. Brown served as Beavers’ power of attorney from early 2009 until July 2013.
In Monroe Circuit Court Monday for sentencing on the criminal charge, the 69-year-old Brown declined to speak on her own behalf, relying on attorney David Thompson to ask the judge for leniency based upon his client’s age, infirmity and lack of prior criminal history.
Circuit Judge Robert Irons was unswayed by Brown’s plight, instead focusing on the tragic situation of her victim.
One of Beavers’ guardians, nephew John Beavers, read from a victim’s impact statement, asking the judge to impose a jail sentence. He described his aunt’s life today, living in the nursing home where she ended up shortly after discovering that her friend and financial adviser had taken her money and her home.
John Beavers said his aunt is now afflicted with “severe dementia,” living in a place where she never wanted to be.
“She is serving a sentence she does not deserve,” he said. “Her best friend betrayed her and stole from her.”
He added, “It broke Dora’s heart and mine. Aunt Dora’s life can never be made whole again.”
Further, he asserted, Brown has demonstrated no remorse for her crimes against Isadora Beavers.
Monroe Prosecuting Attorney Justin St. Clair echoed those words in his argument against leniency, saying, “The one thing that stands out to me... is the complete and utter lack of responsibility and the complete and utter lack of remorse from Betty Brown.”
In fact, he said, Brown’s statements to the probation officer who prepared the pre-sentencing report indicated that she views herself as the victim in this case.
“This case was driven by greed,” St. Clair said.
Brown was also found liable in a civil fraud case based on the same allegations that led her to plead no contest to the criminal charge. In the civil case, which went to trial in Monroe Circuit Court more than a year ago, a jury awarded Beavers compensatory damages of $151,777.06 and assessed punitive damages of an additional $175,000 against Brown.
“This is an infamous case,” St. Clair said Monday, pointing to the number of news reports printed and aired about the embezzlement. “This case demands incarceration. The public needs to know that justice is indeed blind.”
Irons noted that having presided over both the civil and the criminal cases connected to the allegations against Brown, he believes he has a “good understanding” of the facts upon which both are based.
Asking Brown to stand as he pronounced sentence, Irons told her, “I find your conduct to be reprehensible.”
The judge said Brown had abused her position of trust as an official at the bank. No amount of restitution will “put back what’s been lost” by Isadora Beavers, he said.
“Ms. Beavers lost her money; she lost her mind,” he said.
Brown’s lawyer asked that the court allow his client to self-report to the Southern Regional Jail.
After conferring with Beavers’ family, St. Clair said “as an act of kindness and mercy” he would not oppose allowing Brown to have 24 hours to report.
The judge so ordered, dismissing the defendant with the statement, “Good luck to you, Mrs. Brown.”