AUGUSTA — A Winslow woman will serve 60 days in jail for theft of unemployment benefits, falsifying income tax returns for two years, and lying about her income to a hearing officer at a proceeding when she was seeking more child support.

Bobbi Jo Gilman, 42, was sentenced Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center after pleading guilty to three counts of theft by deception, two counts of intentional evasion of state income tax and one count of perjury. The offenses occurred Dec. 8, 2012-Feb. 4, 2014, all in Kennebec County. The state dismissed a charge that accused Gilman of stealing between $1,000 and $10,000 from Laura Rodrigue, an elderly woman for whom Gilman, a certified nursing aide, provided in-home health care and other services.

Gilman paid all the restitution, about $23,800 including back taxes and penalties, prior to Wednesday’s hearing.

During the hearing, she told the judge, “I’d like to apologize for the acts I committed.”

She said she was taking full responsibility for what she had done and added, “While I admit my actions, I never took advantage of Laura Rodrigue.”

Gilman said she would lose her nursing aide certifications as the result of her convictions and likely her job. Gilman said she was supporting two children in college and had 11 cats and five dogs.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin, told the judge that the investigation started as an elder financial exploitation case.

Gilman began working as a home health care aide for Rodrigue, then 88, in fall 2011 first through an agency and then directly. Rodrigue, a widow, was legally blind and suffered from agoraphobia, Robbin said.

However, Robbin said the state could not prove a financial exploitation charge beyond a reasonable doubt because Rodrigue’s sons, who both lived out of state, agreed to the arrangement their mother had with Gilman.

Robbin said the income Gilman concealed from the state and federal governments all came from Rodrigue, who died Dec. 9, 2013.

According to Robbin’s sentencing memo, “From October 29, 2011, through Rodrigue’s final hospitalization on October 7, 2013, Gilman obtained $115,210 from Rodrigue in the form of checks made out to Gilman, cash and Rodrigue, as well as cash withdrawals. She reported none of the alleged income on her state or federal income returns and also collected unemployment compensation while ‘working’ for Rodrigue from December 8, 2012, through September 21, 2013.”

Gilman at times claimed to be working 100 hours a week for Rodrigue while at the same time working between 16 and 40 hours a week for an outside agency, Robbin said.

Robbin said the payment of the restitution was a major mitigating circumstance which led the state to recommend a 364-day sentence, with Gilman to serve an initial 90 days and the remainder suspended.

Gilman’s attorney, Jason Jabar, said Gilman used money she received from Rodrigue to pay other caregivers when Gilman could not be there. He recommended a sentence of seven days or less for his client, saying the strain of the criminal prosecution, the prospect of jail and the stress of dealing with a civil lawsuit brought by Rodrigue’s estate mean that “Bobbi has been crushed, both emotionally and financially.”

In the defense sentencing memo, Jabar wrote, “Bobbi provided excellent care for Laura and charged below market rates for her services during a period when Laura’s children abandoned her.” Jabar said Gilman is a hard worker who “lives modestly in the home she purchased from Rodrigue.”

Mullen outlined his reasons for the 60-day sentence, noting that the state was the victim of Gilman’s fraud.

“All of us who are citizens who pay taxes are injured to some extent when people commit unemployment fraud and don’t pay their taxes,” Mullen said. He said Gilman’s offenses were premediated and took place over the course of months.

He agreed to her beginning her sentence in October so she can undergo surgery later this month.

Gilman’s live-in boyfriend, Scott A. Francis, a fired Clinton police officer, was previously convicted of income tax evasion and perjury.

He was ordered to serve an initial 120 days, beginning March 1, 2016, with the remainder of his four-year sentence suspended.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 


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