A guardian for disabled and elderly people, appointed by Kitsap and Suquamish tribal courts, was sentenced Thursday to a year-and-a-day in prison for scamming more than $250,000 from his clients, including almost $50,000 from a tribal elder.
An attorney for Wayne Jerome Houston, 61, of Port Ludlow, wrote in court documents that Houston started the thefts by skimming from accounts while telling himself he was working hard for his clients.
“Mr. Houston offers no excuses,” his public defender wrote in documents filed with U.S. District Court, adding that he had already paid back $54,000. “He knows what he did was wrong.”
Houston had lived on Bainbridge Island, coached youth sports there and had worked as a pilot for DHL before operating Cross Point Services LLC and moving to Jefferson County.
Houston managed the finances of about 15 to 20 people per month, all of whom were disabled or elderly adults, incapacitated and unable to handle their finances without help, according to federal prosecutors.
Beginning in 2010, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Houston started stealing from wealthier clients so that the theft was less likely to be noticed, with sums ranging from $200 to $66,500.
In addition to the year in prison for pleading guilty to a count of “Social Security fraud - representative payee fraud,” U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan ordered Houston to pay back $256,336.23 taken from 22 people listed by initials in court documents.
“But for his detection by Adult Protective Services and termination from his guardianships, there is no telling how long this pattern may have continued, or how many more may have been victimized,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
Prosecutors added: “There is simply no explanation for Houston’s
repeated decision to steal from his clients hundreds of times over the
course of almost a decade, other than a desire to, as he put it, ‘live
above his means.’”