The Austin Kemp family knew Doris Jean Prevost had a troubled past when they offered her a fresh start three years ago at the request of a chaplain at the Frederick Detention Center.
Prevost had served 18 months for defrauding an elderly woman of about $20,000 and had an earlier conviction for writing a string of bad checks. But she quickly became part of the Kemp family, caring for the elderly Mrs. Kemp and working in the family's Christian bookstore.
Yesterday, Prevost and members of the Kemp family faced each other in a federal courtroom in Baltimore, where the former home companion was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for plotting to kill 84-year-old Mr. Kemp to cover her theft of $100,000 from him.
Prevost, 47, became tearful and deferred to her attorney when U.S. District Judge William N. Nickerson offered her a chance to speak.
"She realizes the Kemps extended their hands and hearts and brought her into their home as if she were family," said her lawyer, Michael Citeramanis. "She is extremely remorseful that this happened."
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph L. Evans recommended that the judge impose the maximum possible sentence. "This was a real-life situation of absolute horror," he said.
Prevost was arrested in February.
According to a statement of facts filed in U.S. District Court:
Her crime began following the death of Mrs. Kemp last October, when Mr. Kemp turned down Prevost's request for a $35,000 loan. She signed a deposit slip to withdraw $100,000 from his account at Fredericktown Bank and Trust Co.
When Mr. Kemp discovered the money was missing and contacted bank officials and the FBI, Prevost hired a hit man and wrote four pages of instructions for the killing. She also drafted a bogus loan agreement and an apology from Mr. Kemp to cover the fraud.
The instructions to the hit man, which were intercepted by the FBI, described Mr. Kemp and his daily routine, and suggested how to gain access to his condominium.
"You could say his son, Gene, has been hurt and is on the way to the hospital. It will get you in . . . " she wrote. "Just please don't make him suffer much."
The phony documents were to be left at the condominium, and Mr. Kemp's body was to be put in the trunk of his car and left at a Metro station.
As payment, Prevost offered an undercover agent posing as the hit man a $1,000 diamond ring and $1,500.
Judge Nickerson, who described Prevost's actions as "cold, calculating, premeditated, depraved," sentenced her to the harshest penalty allowed under federal sentencing guidelines: 135 months.
Prevost had pleaded guilty to one count of witness tampering in exchange for the government's agreement to drop several other counts of bank fraud, witness tampering and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
Bank officials recovered about $60,000 of the money when they froze Prevost's accounts earlier this year.