Sonora, California –– Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke announced today that on May 12, 2023, Kalene Chantel McMillan was sentenced to 12 years in state prison for a series of thefts from her mother Danielle Kissinger that essentially drained Ms. Kissinger’s entire retirement account.
Danielle Kissinger was a firefighter in Tuolumne County until her retirement sometime after 2010. In 2014, Ms. Kissinger suffered a stroke which required she receive daily care. In 2020 Ms. Kissinger had money in a retirement account through Thrift Savings Plan that was in her name and collecting interest. In March of 2021 Ms. K`issinger’s mother Joan, who is McMillan’s grandmother and the power of attorney for Danielle, learned that McMillan was expecting a large check. Knowing McMillan did not have a job, Joan Kissinger made contact with a representative from Thrift Savings Plan and learned the account, totaling over $108,000, had been drained in a series of withdrawals between January to August of 2020. All the withdrawals were traced to McMillan, and with many of the withdrawals a penalty was incurred for early withdrawal. A subsequent investigation by Tuolumne County Sheriff’s detectives uncovered that McMillan had recently entered a local check cashing business with a forged check. In that incident McMillan’s phone was seized by the Sonora Police Department. As part of their investigation McMillan’s phone was forensically examined and numerous photographs were located showing McMillan forging or altering checks in large dollar amounts, driver’s licenses, powers of attorney and checks for COVID rent relief. Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter, who filed and prosecuted the case, requested records from both Chicken Ranch and Black Oak Casinos which showed McMillan gambling very large amounts at both casinos on a regular basis. In one day in September of 2022 McMillan put over $15,000 into machines at Chicken Ranch casino.
As part of the investigation the bank records of Danielle Kissinger were obtained and it was determined that McMillan had also removed over $10,000 of Ms. Kissinger’s money in a series of ATM withdrawals or electronic debits in 2020. ADA Hovatter charged McMillan with eight felony counts of theft from an elder, for the draining of the retirement account, and 47 felony counts of identity theft for the withdrawals from Ms. Kissinger’s bank account. He also filed an enhancement under the White-Collar-Crime statute that exposed McMillan to a state prison sentence in that case.
In another case, occurring on May 14, 2022, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s deputies went to a residence on Cedar Street in Tuolumne City to look for a suspect who was wanted on burglary charges. They noticed a vehicle matching the description of one involved in the burglary and approached the residence. Next to the house was a small shed, and a five year-old girl exited the shed as deputies showed up. When asked what she was doing, the child indicated she was “waiting for her mommy and her boyfriend.” McMillan exited the residence and identified herself as the child’s mother. McMillan was asked about the felon and the child said “he just left.” McMillan shouted to the child to shut up. McMillan eventually indicated she lived in the small shed with one of the burglary suspects and her child. Inside the shed was found a device used to manufacture concentrated cannabis using butane, a process that is highly flammable and possibly explosive. In that case McMillan was charged with felony Child Abuse and Manufacturing a Controlled Substance.
McMillan’s total prison exposure was over 46 years for both cases. After Joan McMillan gave a tearful impact statement, ADA Hovatter argued that this was one of the most, if not the most, egregious case of financial elder abuse he had seen in over 22 years of filing these types of cases. He observed that the court had a difficult decision to make, since McMillan had no previous criminal history, was relatively young and had two small children, but that the conduct was so reprehensible that if the court were to sentence McMillan to the maximum term he would not have a problem “looking his children in the eyes and telling them justice had been served.” In sentencing McMillan to 12 years in state prison, Judge Laura Krieg observed that McMillan’s theft crimes showed she was very intelligent and that it was too bad she had not used her talents for a legitimate purpose. She also pointed out that taking all the money in her disabled mother’s account was terrible and that “children should take care of their elderly parents, not steal from them. “ With good time, work time credits in prison McMillan could be released after serving about six years in prison. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of over $130,000 to her mother.
For More Information Contact:
Eric Hovatter, Assistant District Attorney
Phone: (209) 588 - 5450