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Caregiver Imprisoned for Stealing $56K from Elderly Woman

June 12, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joanna R. Dombrowski, 215.348.6423, jrdombrowski@buckscounty.org

Lisa Lehmann-Waters
Lisa Lehmann-Waters

A woman convicted of stealing more than $56,000 from an elderly woman whose personal care and finances she was entrusted with managing was sentenced Monday to serve nine to 23 months in the Bucks County Correctional Facility.

Lisa Lehmann-Waters arrived for her hearing prepared to pay full restitution of $56,058 to her 80-year-old victim – a factor that Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Raymond F. McHugh said probably spared her from a state prison sentence.

Lehmann-Waters, 48, of Warminster, was convicted by a jury in April of multiple felonies, including deceptive business practices, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of a debit card.

From July 2015 to April 2016, Lehmann-Waters was a caregiver for the wheelchair-bound woman, who lived at the Ann’s Choice Retirement Community in Warminster.

Warminster police were contacted after the victim’s children noticed suspicious transactions in their mother’s financial accounts. They determined that Lehmann-Waters had charged and been paid for more than $36,000 in services over and above what she had legitimately earned, and that she also had used the victim’s debit card to make 63 withdrawals totaling almost $19,000.

“Our mother continually asked, `Why would Lisa do this to me? Why? I trusted her. How will I ever be able to trust another aide again?’” the victim’s children wrote in a victim-impact statement submitted to McHugh. “In trying to comprehend the reasoning behind these horrendous acts, our mother was scared and fragile; her self-esteem plummeted, she doubted everything and everybody.”

The victim’s anguish and fear over the betrayal have affected her mental state and physical condition, her children wrote, leaving her with nightmares, irritability and difficulty concentrating. “This trauma has knocked our mother down and she has not been able to get up,” they wrote.

Lehmann-Waters, who had pleaded no contest to the charges last year only to withdraw her plea and demand a jury trial, did not apologize for her criminal behavior. She said only that she was “sorry that we are here today” and that she “respect(s) the jury’s decision.”

Family members described the defendant as a devoted single mother of five who went out of her way to help loved ones.

Defense attorney Paul J. Mallis argued for leniency, citing Lehmann-Waters’ lack of a prior criminal record and her gesture of paying full restitution. He asked that McHugh consider recommending her for work release.

Assistant District Attorney Joanna R. Dombrowski countered that restitution “is just a gesture that needs to be weighed against the brutality of this case.”

Dombrowski argued that Lehmann-Waters’ plea withdrawal last year delayed the proceedings to a point where “the Commonwealth was fortunate that it was able to try this case” because of the victim’s age and declining health.

The defendant’s ongoing violation of a vulnerable woman’s trust “was abusive. It was a betrayal,” Dombrowski said. “It has taken a toll on her health. It has taken a toll on her mental health.”

McHugh sentenced Lehmann-Waters to nine to 23 months for theft by deception and ordered her to have no further contact with the victim or her family. He said that he would permit her to be placed on intermediate punishment such as work release or house arrest after serving at least 30 days.

The repayment of the victim’s losses “is probably what saves her from going to a state correctional institution,” the judge said.

“I believe that the defendant understands the significance of her crime,” McHugh added. “I don’t think that she has taken full responsibility for it.”

The case was prosecuted by Dombrowski and former Assistant District Attorney Kathleen G. Byrne, and was investigated by Warminster Township Police Detective David Bonacquisti.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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