“As far as he was concerned, (she) didn’t die fast enough,” Judge Tom Difanis said of Russell Carwile.
The 57-year-old was sentenced Friday for financial exploitation of an elderly person, having pleaded guilty to that in July. He admitted stealing more than $190,000 from his mother between November 2013 and Sept. 8, 2015, while he served as her power of attorney. The maximum he could have received was 15 years in prison.
It wasn’t until a welfare check by Champaign County sheriff’s deputies on Sept. 7, 2015, that the deplorable physical condition of his then-88-year-old mother was discovered.
Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Clifton had three deputies and a paramedic testify about what they saw at the woman’s mobile home in Urbana late on the afternoon of Labor Day 2015.
Sgt. Dave Sherrick and deputies Ted Nemecz and Stacy Corray described the woman as malnourished, dehydrated and covered in urine and feces that appeared to have been present for weeks.
Nemecz, responding to a welfare check phoned in by a neighbor, said he tried to get in via a sliding glass door but couldn’t get it open enough to enter.
Hearing the faint voice of an elderly woman as he called out, Nemecz said he climbed through a window into the home, which he said “smelled like an unclean public bathroom.”
He found the woman lying on a bed naked with a single cover, covered in excrement. He said she was blind, partially deaf, and asked him for water.
Nemecz called for an ambulance and while he and his fellow deputies were present, Carwile drove up to the house, appearing “agitated” and “not compliant.”
Sherrick said Carwile told the deputies in rather coarse terms that there was no need to summon an ambulance for his mother, who suffered from dementia. The son told deputies his mother had last seen a doctor seven months earlier and that he didn’t take her because there was nothing medical professionals could do for her.
A neighbor told deputies that Carwile usually spent the night in his mother’s home but left her alone for several hours during the day even though she was unable to get food or water for herself or get to a bathroom. Neighbors said Carwile locked the doors from the outside to prevent his mother from getting out, Sherrick recounted.
Sherrick identified pictures that showed the mother’s non-air-conditioned room and bathroom in horrible condition while Carwile’s bedroom and bathroom were relatively clean and cooled by a window air conditioner.
Sherrick said he also found a brown rope with two loops in it, two plastic-bag corners containing cocaine, and 11 guns and ammunition in Carwile’s bedroom.
Corray said he was informed by a nurse at Presence Covenant Medical Center that the woman was “extremely dehydrated, malnourished and had feces on her body” that had to be “scraped” off of her.
She also had an open wound on her leg with a bandage that hadn’t been changed in a long time.
Arrow Ambulance paramedic Michael Lynch said he saw maggots in the wound on closer inspection.
Carwile was arrested that day and charged with criminal abuse or neglect of an elderly person and unlawful use of weapons. After the woman’s death on Feb. 13, 2016, the more serious charge of financial exploitation of an elderly person was filed against him in March 2016.
Clifton said police learned after the woman’s death that, while acting as her power of attorney, Carwile took more than $190,000 of his mother’s money and used it to buy himself a home on East Main Street in Urbana.
Clifton urged Difanis to impose the 10-year sentence he agreed to ask for when Carwile pleaded guilty.
“This is the kind of offense that can and must be deterred,” the prosecutor said. “He could have easily taken her money and hired someone to care for her. Instead, he took the money for himself.”
“It shows a callousness, disregard and egotism that’s almost unmatched,” Clifton said.
Assistant Public Defender Tony Allegretti asked the judge to consider a lesser sentence, noting Carwile’s guilty plea, his agreement to repay his mother’s estate $190,350, and his poor health, which includes diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Carwile had an aggravated-battery conviction from 1978, three misdemeanor convictions after that and one for driving under the influence in 2007. He declined to say anything on his own behalf.
Carwile is eligible for day-for-day good time in prison. He’s been out on bond since the charges were initially filed.
“I think the Department of Corrections will take better care of him than he took of her,” Clifton said after the hearing.
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Man's 'outrageous' abuse of mother nets 10 years in prison