Couple sent to prison for bilking elderly neighbor
January 13, 2014
An Indian Hills couple, who befriended and bilked an 86-year-old man out of $100,000, was sentenced Monday to five years in Nevada state prison and ordered to pay restitution to the man's estate.
Denise M. Allen, 55, and her husband, Michael Gene Allen, 54, pleaded guilty to felony exploitation of the elderly. They faced up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, plus restitution, for the crime against 86-year-old Adolf Joseph Dymesich.
The victim died in September, but not before he told his niece and Special Advocate for the Elderly John Giomi he thought the Allens should go to prison.
District Judge Michael Gibbons decried "the insidious nature" of the crime, which he added was "committed behind closed doors to the detriment of a vulnerable person."
"That makes it a very serious crime," Gibbons said at the conclusion of a two-hour sentencing hearing. "There should not be probation."
Gibbons said he took into account the fact that Denise Allen had no prior criminal record, and had health issues. She requested imposition of sentencing be delayed until after surgery she has scheduled for Jan. 23.
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Gibbons remanded the couple to the custody of the sheriff.
The Allens must serve a minimum of two years in prison before they are eligible for parole.
The judge cautioned others who might be in the position of helping out elderly friends or relatives to proceed cautiously.
"This case has many elements with shades of gray, and also black and white. It looks like the Allens started out helping Mr. Dymesich and they did help," Gibbons said.
But the couple's efforts "went from caring for him (Dymesich) to caring for themselves," Gibbons said.
A forensic audit of Dymesich's finances revealed that Denise Allen spent $15,500 on items from the QVC home shopping network and nearly $15,000 at Bodine's in Carson City.
Within six months, she had rung up expenses of $60,000 on a credit card she claimed Dymesich authorized her to use.
The Allens also used the elderly man's resources to pay for dental work, and purchase a 2006 GMC Denali for $25,000 that was later returned.
Dymesich's credit card was used to pay a $337 fine in East Fork Justice Court against Michael Allen for a misdemeanor domestic battery conviction, according to court reports.
Dymesich's niece, Patti Young, told Gibbons she drove 2,000 miles from Duluth, Minn., so she could speak on behalf of the victim.
She said her uncle was one of 14 siblings who grew up during the Great Depression. She said at the end of his life he was suffering from alcoholic dementia and "sundown syndrome" and was bereft at the knowledge the Allens had taken his money.
"Three weeks before he died he said, 'Michael and Denise stole my money.' He knew he made a big mistake. I think their actions contributed to his death," Young said.
She said she and her family knew they wouldn't get restitution from the Allens and believed they deserved prison.
Denise Allen was adamant Monday that she didn't do anything without Dymesich's permission.
"I don't appreciate being called a devil," she said. "I worked very hard to make Joseph happy. I did not do anything — anything — judge, to make this happen. None of these people lived in our home or know how well Joseph was cared for. I have never taken anything from anybody in my life, and I am not going to start in my 50s."
Michael Allen apologized.
"I am very sorry for things me and my wife have done to utilize Joseph's estate for our benefit. I intend to try to get to work to pay court funds and restitution. Because of background checks and the hard condition of finding employment, I have been unable to find work," he said.
Officials believe the Allens went through $100,000 of the victim's money between October 2012, and March 2013, when Public Guardian Claudette Springmeyer was appointed to oversee his care.
According to documents, Denise Allen convinced the victim in the fall of 2012 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.
Originally Giomi said he originally believed the Allens went through $300,000 of Dymesich's money, but the amount was downsized to $100,000.
"Mr. Dymesich was visibly relieved, but that was still a fortune in his mind," Giomi said. "He was heartsick that he spent all that time working so hard for someone to take his money," Giomi said. "He was blindsided by people he trusted."
Dymesich was relocated from the Allens to Carson Valley Senior Living where he resided until his death in September.