A Pleasanton woman was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for stealing over $8,000 in cash and approximately $100,000 in jewelry from a then-70-year-old Tuolumne County resident who was vacationing in New Zealand, the Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office announced in a news release Tuesday.
Jessica Corbin Lack, 51, pleaded guilty to first-degree residential burglary and six counts of identity theft for the crimes, which were committed in late 2018 against the victim, Beverly Ryan.
The release said Lack was living in a nearby residence with her boyfriend when Ryan entrusted her with watching Ryan’s home during the New Zealand vacation in October 2018, as well as doing chores such as getting mail and starting Ryan’s car.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter, who handles all elder abuse cases, prosecuted the case.
Sgt. Robert Nikiforuk, of the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office, said Lack was arrested on Feb. 14, 2019. The investigation into the charges against her occured in December 2018.
Ryan first noticed something was amiss when there were unexplained charges on one of her gas cards while she was in New Zealand. While there, Lack also reportedly told Ryan that her aunt was the wife of the United States ambassador to New Zealand and the woman wanted to treat Ryan to a spa day in Rotura, a town famous for thermal baths.
When Ryan returned home, she found a safe was pried open and items were out of place in her home. A Sheriff's deputy noted during an emergency response call that cash, jewelry, liquor and other items were missing from the home. A purse containing charge cards owned by Ryan had also been moved.
At the time, Luck denied any knowledge of what occured and said she did not notice anything unusual while she was caretaking the home, though a deputy noticed an open window.
Ryan itemized that approximately $6,000 in charges were made in Oakdale and at local businesses. She also noticed a $2,000 charge in the Pleasanton area, where Lack cared for her own elderly mother, and began to suspect her.
Sheriff's Det. Richard Donaldson conducted the investigation into Lack and pulled surveillance footage from local businesses showing her making the purchases. He also connected her to having charged the New Zealand spa treatment to one of Ryan's cards.
The investigator also determined Lack purchased furniture, paid $6,000 in cash for a Land Rover in Pleasanton and made $1,307 worth of transactions at Rite Aid.
The total cash charges were estimated at $8,000, and the loss in jewelry about $100,000. None of the stolen items were recovered, and Lack did not disclose the locations of any of the items.
"Although the conduct resulted in great financial loss, only the charge of first-degree residential burglary made Lack eligible for state prison," the news release said.
The District Attorney's Office said changes in state law have made financial elder abuse and identity theft ineligible for state prison and instead are only eligible for county jail or grants of felony probation. Conduct-based sentencing enhancements for large amounts of theft have also been eliminated, meaning Lack was not eligible for any sentencing enhancements.
Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at email@example.com or (209) 588-4526.