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The original item was published from 12/18/2018 10:41:00 AM to 2/1/2019 12:00:02 AM.

News Flash

District Attorney

Posted on: December 18, 2018

[ARCHIVED] Elder theft sentencing


Christian Tyler, 21, was sentenced December 10, 2018 by Judge Donald Segerstrom to eight months in the county jail after a Tuolumne County jury convicted him of First Degree Burglary and Theft from an Elder on November 1, 2018. Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter, who handles all elder abuse prosecutions in Tuolumne County, indicated that this was a crime of opportunity and involved preying on the trust of elderly relatives. Per Hovatter “Tyler is the grandson of Joan and Ib Madsen who have a residence in the county. He lived with the Madsens in 2015, and was aware they had been putting aside money for his benefit when he graduated from high school.” In 2015 Tyler moved to the Bay Area and would visit on holidays. Sometime in 2016 Mr. Madsen brought some cash home in anticipation of buying a car. He had also been saving for Tyler’s post-graduation fund which was up to approximately $2,000. While out of state on vacation, in 2016, the Madsens received a call from Tyler who told them he was at their house and wanted to swim in their pool. He was given permission and told to check in with a neighbor, who testified at trial that Tyler showed up unexpectedly at the Madsen property and told her that he had not previously informed the Madsens of his intentions. Several weeks after returning from the vacation Mr. Madsen discovered he was missing over $6,000 and a custom wallet. He did not call law enforcement, despite Tyler admitting to him that he had taken the money. Another year passed when Mr. Madsen again noted that another large sum of money was missing, along with the replacement custom wallet he had purchased to replace the previously stolen one. He then reported the thefts to local authorities. At trial Tyler testified that he had found a wallet with $1,700 on the floor of his grandparent’s bedroom and decided to keep it, but denied taking any other money. Mr. Madsen denied leaving any money in a wallet on the floor of his bedroom. The jury convicted him of the first theft, and acquitted him of the second. Although Tyler faced a maximum of seven years in prison, Judge Segerstrom found that Tyler’s youth and lack of prior criminal history justified a grant of probation and eight months in jail. In addition, Tyler’s grandmother made a statement asking for leniency and expressing hope that Tyler would learn from the experience. Tyler agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $11,000 to the Madsens. Mr. Hovatter commented, “This case is not an unusual situation in the world of financial elder abuse. Many perpetrators are relatives of the elderly victims and they commit theft for a number of reasons including a sense that the victims will not report or pursue charges out of love or loyalty, they will not survive the case due to their advanced age or they will attribute the disappearance of valuables to age-related confusion. Whatever the reasons, elder financial abuse continues to be a rising problem and the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office will vigorously prosecute these cases and ask for strict sentences.” Although the People had asked for a longer period of incarceration it should be noted that Tyler’s conviction for First Degree Residential Burglary is a strike and will expose him to prison time if he commits another felony in the future.

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