District Judge Tod Young, hearing a case against a couple accused of bilking an elderly man out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, recused himself Tuesday because he represented one of the defendants in an earlier case.
Young said he was transferring the case to District Judge Michael Gibbons because he did not want to give the appearance of impropriety.
The defendants — Denise M. Allen, 54, and her husband, Michael Gene Allen, 54 — were set to enter pleas in the case Tuesday.
Young said Tuesday that prior to being appointed judge, he represented Michael Allen.
Young said he didn’t recall the details or outcome of the case.
Considering the Allens were set to enter guilty pleas Tuesday, Young said at sentencing, he would be asked to consider their prior criminal history.
“I would be asked to consider a case I represented you in,” he said. “There is a presumption in law through my representation of you that I would have some privileged information.”
Young said it could appear that he gave too much weight to Michael Allen’s prior offense, or was too lenient in passing sentence based on prior knowledge.
“I have no prejudice against or in favor of Mr. Allen, but I think it’s imperative to move the case down to a judge who has no knowledge of you,” Young said.
The Allens’ attorneys agreed to the continuance.
Court documents indicate they are prepared to plead guilty to exploitation of an elderly person, a felony, and agreed to pay $100,000 restitution.
The plea agreement is contingent on both Allens accepting the deal.
In exchange for their plea, the state will not file additional charges.
If they plead guilty to the offense, they face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. They also are eligible for probation.
Originally, the Allens were charged with exploitation of an elderly person, obtaining the identity of and using personal information of another person, and embezzlement against a person age 60 or older.
The criminal complaint states that the crimes allegedly occurred from Jan. 1, 2012 through May 31, 2013.
The 86-year-old victim now resides at an assisted living facility.
They are accused of acquiring the elderly man’s name, checking account and Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and his date of birth without his permission.
With that information, they paid bills, wrote personal checks, and made purchases.
Officials believe the Allens went through $300,000 of the victim’s money between October last year, and this March, when Public Guardian Claudette Springmeyer was appointed to oversee his care.
The victim has been determined to be incompetent to make decisions regarding his health or finances.
According to court documents, Denise Allen convinced the victim last fall to award her power of attorney, revoking it from his niece.
Allen reportedly took the elderly man to an attorney in Carson City who prepared the paperwork.
A state caseworker reported that it was determined that Allen lacked the necessary documentation to prove the victim was competent to make the change, so the power of attorney was invalid.
In the meantime, Allen reportedly wrote checks to others, including a $4,000 expense for dental work; bought a pickup truck. They also paid $20,043.36 for a 2006 Yukon Denali luxury SUV.
According to reports, the Allens met the man five years ago.