BROOKSVILLE — A woman accused of stealing roughly $25,000 from an elderly man in her care was sentenced Friday to five years of probation.
Joy Serini, 40, pleaded no contest to one count of exploitation of the elderly. Hernando County Circuit Judge Anthony Tatti departed from the minimum guideline of 21 months in state prison on the condition Serini pay back the money prosecutors say she stole from a 91-year-old Spring Hill man who suffered from dementia.
Serini is required to pay at least $400 a month, said Assistant State Attorney Rob Lewis. She faces up to 15 years in prison if she violates the terms of her probation.
Serini, who was arrested in November and now lives in Pasco County, was serving as an informal caregiver for the man and stole the money by making fraudulent check, debit card and credit card transactions, according to the Hernando Sheriff's Office. Detectives say Serini's husband, roommate and one of her close friends all told investigators she was using the man's checks and cards to make purchases for herself and withdraw money from his account at ATMs.
"Though we believe at trial we would have shown she was not guilty of stealing that much money, we felt it was in her best interest to accept the deal as offered," said Assistant Public Defender Dave Bauer.