May 4—PETOSKEY — A Harbor Springs woman charged with multiple felonies following an investigation into her court-appointed work as a conservator has pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 57th Circuit Court.
Monday's guilty plea by Elise Page was made as part of an agreement with the Emmet County Prosecutor's Office, after a months-long investigation by two area law enforcement agencies.
The Harbor Springs Police Department and the Petoskey Department of Public Safety last fall began investigating Page, after receiving complaints she was mismanaging money belonging to at least two adults assigned to her by the Emmet County Probate Court.
One, George Pappas of Harbor Springs, disputes he needed a conservator but rather said he asked the Veterans Affairs Administrator for temporary bookkeeping help.
Pappas expressed relief about Page's guilty plea deal, though said he remained skeptical over whether he would ever be repaid.
"I'm still trying to find out what happened to my money and whether or not I'll get it all back," Pappas said.
Police documents show Page spent about $3,900 of Pappas money on retail purchases like electronic cigarettes and women's clothing and withdrew another $10,000 in cash from his account just weeks after being named his conservator.
Conservators are appointed by the probate court to administer someone's financial affairs when, through age, injury or illness, they are no longer able to do so for themselves.
Michigan law states a probate court can appoint anyone they like to be a conservator, so long as the person is older than 18 and "competent," though critics of the system say the term is not well defined.
Page's name had been on a list of conservators maintained by the Emmet County Probate Court, to disseminate to those like the VA which requested it, though officials said her name has since been removed.
Page pleaded guilty to two felony counts of embezzlement of more than $1,000 and less than $20,000, from a vulnerable adult, which each carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Page must also pay restitution of $17,333.88 as part of the plea deal, court records show.
In exchange for the plea agreement, several charges of embezzlement and using a computer to commit a crime were dismissed, records show.
Emmet County Prosecutor James Linderman declined comment and Page's attorney, Jonathan Steffy, could not be reached for comment.
Fifty-seventh Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Deegan recused herself and the hearing was overseen by 90th District Court Judge Angela Lasher.
Sentencing will occur following a pre-sentence report and has yet to be scheduled, court records show.