Woman goes to prison for bilking stroke victim

A Gardnerville Ranchos woman was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in Nevada State Prison and ordered to repay $122,833.25 to an elderly stroke victim who hired her as a caretaker.

Kathy Silveira, 44, must serve a minimum of two years before she is eligible for parole.

She admitted embezzling the money beginning in June 2004 until her crime was discovered by the 62-year-old victim's brother in March.

She pleaded guilty to exploitation of the elderly and received the maximum sentence.

"If (the victim's) brother hadn't been alert, there is no reason to believe Ms. Silveira would have stopped until the victim ran out of money," said Judge Dave Gamble. "There were literally hundreds of exploitations of the elderly."

Gamble said he recognized that Silveira had no prior criminal record and that her many letters of support expressed shock at the crime.

"But the true view of the victim is that of a person being a thief, liar and faker who wormed her way into the victim's life," Gamble said.

Speaking on behalf of the victim, lawyer Karen Dustman said the family wanted the maximum prison sentence. Silveira could have received probation.

"This is a heinous crime," Dustman said. "This is not a crime of impulse or opportunity. She cleaned out her account methodically. She (the victim) can't make up the money. It was to take care of her for the rest of her life."

The victim attended the sentencing in a wheelchair.

Silveira apologized and asked for probation, promising to work four jobs to make restitution.

"I have had many nightmares and not much sleep trying to figure out what I have done," Silveira said. "I love her very much. The pain I caused her is incomprehensible. There are not enough words to express remorse or sorrow. I will never be able to make amends."

Silveira also asked to be spared prison to care for her children and elderly stepfather.

Gamble said he didn't doubt that Silveira would earn her release before the maximum term is up, but he refused to suspend her sentence.

He said he was governed by the original purposes for sentencing, that is to deter others from committing the same crime, deter the defendant from repeating the offense, restoring the victim as much as possible and exacting the punishment determined by society.

"This horrible impact on a disabled person is not usually part of the mix," Gamble said.

He also pointed to the fact that Silveira had no gambling or drug addictions.

"The money was frittered away," Gamble said. "It looks like Ms. Silveira bought stuff."

According to court records, Silveira was accused of taking the money in unauthorized checks, withdrawals and bill payments.

Authorities were contacted by the victim's brother who said he became concerned when large sums of money began disappearing from her bank account and other accounts she had with a financial adviser.

The victim told authorities she would sign checks after going over the bills with Silveira.

She said she never authorized checks and withdrawals that Silveira allegedly wrote to pay rent, utility bills and other personal expenses.

Silveira also reportedly opened an unauthorized line of credit and advanced herself nearly $20,000.

She has repaid $6,300.

Gamble ordered two checks worth nearly $10,000 be turned over to the victim along with the sale of a 1994 Harley Davidson motorcycle valued at $10,000.


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