A woman was sentenced to two years in prison, plus five years’ post-prison supervision, for what the prosecution described as depleting her mother’s account “into oblivion,” leaving her unable to pay her debts.
Barbara Osterud was accused of financially exploiting her mother, Mary K Child. Between 2009 and 2012, she received $3 million from her mother.
During sentencing, the defense argued that this money was given freely by Child, who is now 89. The prosecution said Osterud isolated her mother from people who would have realized what was going on and that she unduly influenced Child to give her the money.
In January 2015, Osterud was charged with eight counts of first-degree aggravated theft and eight counts of criminal mistreatment, commonly referred to as elder abuse.
In October, Osterud agreed to stipulated facts at a trial before Judge Courtland Geyer. She was convicted of five counts of aggravated theft and two counts of criminal mistreatment. The sentencing hearing took place Thursday and Nov. 2, 2015.
Throughout the investigation, and at least twice before the court, Child said that she herself decided to give the money to Osterud.
“I did it because I wanted to,” Child said. “She did not ask me for anything. She’s a wonderful daughter.”
Child painted herself as a victim of the court’s actions in both this criminal case and a civil case related to the matter.
“I think it’s very cruel I cannot have contact with (Osterud),” Child said. “I have done nothing to deserve the kind of treatment this court has given me.”
Prosecutor Douglas Prince described what happened to Child as a con, wherein the victim never knows she’s been conned. She gave up the money because she believed she wanted to. The act of influencing Child to get her to that point is part of the crime, he said.
Rene Sutton, Child’s older daughter, received $250,000 during the same period Osterud received $3 million. Sutton was also written out of a will when previous versions had the sisters equally splitting the inheritance.
Prince denied that Sutton was providing motivation behind the case.
“We are not here because of a document disinheriting Rene Sutton,” Prince said.
Judge Thomas Hart said cases involving siblings fighting over mom and dad’s money are some of the hardest he hears. Siblings have had a hard time since Cain and Abel, he said.
Osterud said her sister has embarked on a “campaign of hate” against her.
“I’ve been forced to accept my sister has become a cold, heartless liar,” Sutton said.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jay Pentheny’s criminal investigation began in August 2012, when he received a referral from a senior fraud investigator at Wells Fargo. Since Child lives in Aurora, the case was transferred from Multnomah County to Marion County. Pentheny is part of an unit that investigates elder abuse allegations throughout the state.
The civil case began independent of the criminal case. In January 2013, Judge Dennis Graves appointed lawyer Robert Dorszynski as a conservator of her trust. The civil case has been settled. Osterud and her husband are required to repay $3 million. They have since declared bankruptcy.
During her statement before the court, Osterud did not admit to doing anything criminal. She denied blocking Sutton’s access to her mother, isolating her, inflicting emotional or physical abuse, and trying to steal from her.
“I was wrong to accept the generosity of my mother,” she said.
She said she agreed to stipulated facts because was afraid of the toll a trial would have on her mother and didn’t trust that an untrained jury would understand the case. She said she thought most juries would be prejudiced about the amount of money involved.
The only error she admitted to making was continuing to accept gifts from her mother although her mother’s lawyer said that needed to stop. She said she accepted them because her mother is stubborn.
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Daughter sentenced in elder-abuse case