(ran SS edition of Metro & State)
The defendant must also repay the estate of the victim, who died in August 1998, and her bank.
At the time, Paul T. Sebar says he only wanted to help the elderly woman who lived alone and could barely take care of herself.
He started cleaning her carpet in December 1991. But over the next seven years, prosecutors say, Sebar nearly cleaned out the 94-year-old woman's bank account to support his gambling habit.
On Tuesday, Sebar, 46, was sentenced to three years in prison followed by 12 years' probation after pleading no contest to violation of probation, grand theft and exploitation of an elderly person, Mary Olsen. She died in August 1998.
"I took advantage of the situation," Sebar told Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge DeeAnna Farnell on Tuesday. "I was ashamed of what I'd done."
Farnell also ordered Sebar to pay back the money to Ms. Olsen's estate and to the bank, which had reimbursed her accounts once Sebar was charged.
Although part of the money was used to buy food and bedding for Ms. Olsen, Sebar said he spent most of the nearly $32,000 on himself. At the time, he had mounting medical bills for his chemotherapy and a gambling habit that kept him going back to the dog track and gaming halls in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Sebar, of 2442 Balboa Court, got caught after bank tellers sensed something was wrong when Sebar escorted Ms. Olsen into a bank and she tried to prematurely surrender a $70,000 certificate of deposit.
Assistant State Attorney Garry Potts said bank tellers talked her out of that, but Ms. Olsen withdrew $2,800 instead and handed $1,500 of it to Sebar, who lied to bank officials about his name and relationship to Ms. Olsen.
Sebar was arrested in December. During the investigation, detectives discovered that Sebar had used Ms. Olsen's ATM card 115 times, mostly to obtain money for gambling, and made about $28,000 in withdrawals. In addition, Ms. Olsen had written another $2,800 in checks to Sebar between December 1997 and July 1998.
Farnell has ordered Sebar to stay away from any gambling on land, water and cyberspace.