Woman sentenced to 2 years in jail for defrauding elderly aunt

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EL CAJON, Calif. (CNS) — A woman who defrauded her 86-year-old aunt out of more than $160,000, with much of the money spent on gambling and Facebook games, was sentenced Wednesday to two years in jail.

Jeannie Ellen Mercier of San Diego, 66, was convicted by an El Cajon jury last year of grand theft, financial elder abuse, embezzlement and identity theft.

After her aunt moved into the memory care unit of a local retirement home, Mercier used the victim’s personal identifying information to drain her life savings between 2013 and 2015. The state Attorney General’s office said the defendant spent more than $120,000 on gambling at six southern California casinos and on games on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Mercier failed to use her aunt’s long-term care insurance policy to pay for the victim’s room and board, racking up $34,000 in unpaid rent, according to prosecutors.

The investigation began when some of the aunt’s other relatives suspected financial abuse was occurring and contacted San Diego County Audit Protective Services.

Victim restitution will be determined at another court hearing, currently scheduled for June 18.

“No one should ever have to fear losing their savings to fraud and deceit, especially at the hands of a relative in a trusted position,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. “Targeting the vulnerable is unacceptable.”

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