A 54-year-old woman was convicted Wednesday in Boulder District Court on felony theft charges for scamming an elderly Boulder couple of almost $600,000 over the span of seven years.
Michelle Ann Hebert was found guilty on two counts of theft from an at-risk adult -- a Class 3 felony -- as well as eight tax related charges by a jury after a four-day trial.
According to an arrest affidavit, Hebert met the victims, Howard and Charlotte Krasnoff, in 2001 when Howard Krasnoff, 89, became a patient at a Longmont eye clinic where Hebert worked as a receptionist.
The Krasnoffs said Hebert's behavior toward Howard was "flirtatious," and that she would often show him pictures of her daughter because he had a soft spot for children. He also had several medial issues, including Parkinson's disease and memory issues.
In 2005, Hebert showed up at the Krasnoffs' door and asked for a $300 loan to help pay for living expenses, according to court records. The Krasnoffs were confused by the request, but gave her the money because they knew her and thought she was a good person. Hebert did pay back the $300 loan.
But after that Hebert began seeing Howard Krasnoff -- a psychotherapist -- as a patient and asked him for more money. She told him stories about how her daughter was sick or that she was afraid of her ex-husbands when asking for loans, sometimes ranging in the thousands of dollars.
Hebert told the Krasnoffs she would pay them back when she won a multi-million dollar lawsuit she said she had filed or sold her house in Wyoming, but none of the loans were ever repaid.
She also used a credit card belonging to Howard Krasnoff to make purchases until he cancelled the card.
The Krasnoffs finally brought their case forward to investigators in April.
Howard Krasnoff passed away on Oct. 3, but was able to give a recorded deposition that was played for the jury, and Charlotte Krasnoff testified at the trial in person.
Boulder Deputy District Attorney Jane Walsh said the case was an example of why exploitation cases against the elderly needed to be prosecuted.
"This was a case where someone systematically exploited vulnerable seniors, one of whom was particularly vulnerable due to ill health and cognitive decline," Walsh said. "We were happy that the jury reacted to send a clear message that they wouldn't tolerate seniors being stolen from and exploited in this way."
Hebert is free on $25,000 bond and due for a sentencing hearing on Jan. 17.
She could be facing up to 12 years in prison for the theft charges.
"It's a priority for our office to protect vulnerable sections of the community in Boulder County, and cases of exploiting seniors are extremely prevalent, underreported and they're tough cases because victims may have problems testifying," Walsh said. "Therefore this is a really important case for us, and we hope that it will raise public awareness as to how extensive this kind of crime is."