Caretaker of handicapped guilty of theft from them She used money to buy crack cocaine in city and spent weekend away

October 05, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

A Silver Spring woman was found guilty of stealing money from three severely retarded senior citizens she was supposed to be caring for in a group home in Columbia and abandoning them to buy drugs.

Katherine Marie Matthews, 37, of the 900 block of North Belgrade Road pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and misdemeanor theft in Howard County District Court on Friday for stealing money, taking a car and leaving the three patients unattended to buy crack cocaine in Baltimore in April.

She received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay more than $2,000 in restitution.

According to court documents, Matthews supervised the three people in a home run by the Association for Retarded Citizens.

All require around-the-clock medical supervision: One was blind, another used a wheelchair, the third needed oxygen 24 hours a day.

On April 29, Matthew stole $162 from the home's petty cash supply and a Social Security check worth $563 from one of her charges, evidence showed.

She took an ARC car and drove into Baltimore to purchase cocaine.

Court documents said Matthews spent a weekend at a crack house before she was arrested.

The car was found the next day in the parking lot outside the ARC building in Columbia. It had been in an accident that caused more than $700 in damage.

Howard County District Judge Louis A. Becker sentenced Matthews to five years in jail for the reckless-endangerment charges, which he suspended to one day in the county detention center.

He also suspended an 18-month theft sentence and $5,500 in fines.

Matthews is required to pay $2,039 in restitution to ARC, a nonprofit organization that finds housing for more than 50 severely retarded citizen, most older than 50.

A teary Matthews admitted in the Ellicott City courtroom that she had been using drugs and alcohol for at least 10 years before her arrest in May.

Matthews now works as a recreational planner in a senior citizen facility in Silver Spring.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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