East Millinocket woman sentenced to 4 months in jail for stealing from elderly mom

Posted May 31, 2013, at 11:12 a.m.
Last modified May 31, 2013, at 11:33 a.m.
Meredith A. Purcell of East Millinocket listens to opening arguments in her trial on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
Michael C. York | BDN
Meredith A. Purcell of East Millinocket listens to opening arguments in her trial on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. Buy Photo
Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin presents the prosecution's opening arguments in the trial of Meredith A. Purcell of East Millinocket on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
Michael C. York | BDN
Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin presents the prosecution's opening arguments in the trial of Meredith A. Purcell of East Millinocket on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. Buy Photo
Defense attorney James Billings presents opening arguments in the trial of Meredith A. Purcell of East Millinockett on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
Michael C. York | BDN
Defense attorney James Billings presents opening arguments in the trial of Meredith A. Purcell of East Millinockett on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. Buy Photo

BANGOR, Maine — An East Millinocket woman found guilty last year of stealing more than $50,000 from her elderly mother — some of which she gambled away at Hollywood Slots — was sentenced Friday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to four years in prison with all but four months suspended.

Meredith A. Purcell, 60, was found guilty Nov. 30 of theft by unauthorized taking, a Class B crime, and misuse of entrusted property, a Class D crime, between 2007 and 2011.

Purcell paid $50,000 in restitution before the 90-minute sentencing hearing began.

She began serving her sentence immediately.

In addition to jail time, Superior Court Justice William Anderson sentenced Purcell to two years of probation.

Purcell stole money from the annuity set up by her father in 2000, according to evidence presented at the trial.

After the trial, Anderson determined the amount of the theft was $50,000 not the $84,000 the prosecution argued was stolen.

Purcell faced up to 10 years in prison on the theft charge and up to a year in prison on the misuse of property charge.

After the verdict last year, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin described the case against Purcell as an example of “financial exploitation of the elderly.”

Defense attorney James Billings of Augusta, said after the jury of six men and six women was dismissed that his client was “distraught.” He also said that Purcell did not agree with the jury’s verdict.

Purcell had been free on personal recognizance bail while awaiting sentencing.

The theft was discovered by William “Billy” Hoxie, Purcell’s brother. He testified at the trial that he found unpaid bills at his mother’s home in March 2011, including one from the Internal Revenue Service about a late payment for taxes. He consulted Bangor attorney Roberta Winchell, who alerted authorities.

Hoxie told the jury his mother now lives solely on her Social Security income in a low-income housing project.

“The money [from the annuity] should have lasted that woman a lifetime,” he testified. “She doesn’t spend nothing.”

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