Disabled woman's caregiver charged in theft of savings

April 16, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A U2 concert Nancy Fleming didn't attend, a boat she doesn't own, jewelry she doesn't have.

Those are some of the things Anne Arundel County prosecutors say Fleming, who is disabled, paid for.

But, prosecutors say, the beneficiary was the woman who was supposed to be taking care of Fleming but who stole her savings instead.

Today, Circuit Judge Clayton R. Greene is to decide if defendant Romy T. Gresham, 28, of Pasadena can withdraw the guilty plea her lawyer, Michael S. Pappafotis, says was made a year ago because prosecutors misled him.

Gresham's plea to the theft charge occurred last April 28, when she acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her but she did not admit responsibility for a crime. At that hearing, Pappafotis said his client, who gained power of attorney for Fleming, did spend a lot of Fleming's money while taking care of her. Ensuing negotiations between the defense and prosecution over restitution broke down.

If the plea stands, the judge will decide how much restitution -- prosecutors say it could top $50,000, the defense says it might be a fraction of that -- should be paid.

For Fleming's family, a resolution has been slow in coming. Relatives have been losing hope of reclaiming money, which they planned to spend on health care for Fleming, 41, who is legally blind. She also has suffered diabetic comas that have reduced her mental capacities.

The family makes up the $1,000 monthly shortfall for Fleming's assisted living.

"My family, we are going to take care of my sister. But a lot of elderly and disabled people don't have that. What happens to them?" said Candice Quinn, who wants Gresham sentenced to jail.

Pub Date: 4/16/99

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