Tracy Gaye Mata was charged with larceny from a building when she allegedly stole $6,500 from an elderly woman she cared for and befriended. Now, Mata has been ordered to remain in jail until she repays the money to Dorothy Preblo, the 91-year-old woman who was in her care.
According to an article at Mlive.com, Mata was caught on video after the elderly woman set up a camera to catch Mata in the act. Mata was caught stealing money from Preblo’s purse.
Sandee Johnston, the victim’s daughter, said in court that Mata used the Bible to gain Preblo’s trust, and that the defendant had stolen money from her mother over a period of months. Johnston also stated that her mother had begun to believe her suspicions of missing money was a result of Alzheimer’s disease. Preblo and Mata met at church; Mata cared for the woman over a period of 18 months in a volunteer capacity, and visited Preblo several times a day. Preblo came to feel that the woman she thought was her friend really only “liked her money.”
Mata was ordered to pay the money after pleading guilty to the charge in October. Preblo’s daughter agreed with the amount, although she believes more than $6,500 was taken from her mother.
The defendant said she would be able to repay the money right away after Judge Dennis Leiber ordered her to remain as long as 90 days in the Kent County Jail, or until the full sum is paid. The 91-year-old woman said that she was more interested in seeing that Mata felt true remorse for the crime she committed than seeing her in jail.
If Mata had gone to trial and been found guilty, she may have faced substantially harsher penalties. In Michigan, a conviction for charges of larceny from a building will leave the defendant facing up to four years in jail. This offense is described as the stealing of property, money, or goods from a house, office, hotel, school, factory, church, trailer, gas station, warehouse, or any publicly used building.
Anyone who has been accused of a theft or larceny offense should consult with a skilled and capable Michigan criminal defense lawyer right away. Your freedom, future, and reputation are at risk; an experienced attorney will work to protect you from severe criminal penalties.