Houston County judge calls exploitation case "appalling"
A Centerville woman convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly, sick neighbor was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison.
Cheri Cox, 56, was found guilty earlier this month of multiple counts exploitation of an elder person and financial transaction card fraud after a weeklong trial in Houston County Superior Court.
She stole money from an 82-year-old man who suffered from dementia. He lived alone in worn-down trailer and spent little of the money he amassed over the years on himself, prosecutors said.
He is now living in an assisted-care living facility and his finances are protected by a conservator.
Cox used the money to pay for personal expenses, including improvements to her home and backyard and to pay off credit card bills. She also cashed her neighbor’s savings bond, and a safe with $100,000 inside was found in her home.
Cox was also sentenced to 16 years probation and is expected to pay restitution. A restitution hearing is pending.
Her attorney, Jim Rockefeller, had argued for leniency, noting Cox would likely lose her disability income if incarcerated for more than 60 days and would have difficulty paying restitution.
Cox had no prior criminal convictions.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Erikka Williams argued for “significant” prison time to not only send a message to Cox but to any others in the community who might consider exploiting an elderly person.
During the hearing, two of Cox’s friends spoke on her behalf, including Craig Jordan, who said she helped him when he was down on his luck.
Judge George Nunn said he had trouble with Cox’s testimony during trial that the money she used to pay off her credit cards was a loan, or that her efforts to have her neighbor’s will changed on her behalf was his desire.
“Everything I’ve heard about this case, everything I have listened to, and I’ve listened to a weeklong trial, I just see Ms. Cox as someone that was absolutely bent on tying to get everything she could,” Nunn said.
He called the case “appalling.”
Cox is expected to appeal her conviction.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.