Jul. 8—WILLMAR — A Willmar man was sentenced to five years of probation Wednesday for financially exploiting a vulnerable adult in Kandiyohi County from 2016 through 2018.
Jerry Lynn Olson, 72, of Willmar, was ordered to serve five years of supervised probation under which he must remain law-abiding and must pay $10,000 in restitution to two of his victims.
He also was given a stay of adjudication by Eighth District Judge Melissa Listug.
A stay of adjudication means that if Olson complies with all the conditions placed on him by the court, a conviction will not be listed on his record.
Olson entered an Alford plea in April to one felony count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Three other identical felony charges were dismissed.
In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit to the crime but admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to make a conviction likely. The plea is entered in the record as a guilty plea.
According to the criminal complaint filed against him in June 2019, Olson had been in charge of an elderly relative's finances and allegedly wrote checks from her account to benefit himself and his family while her unpaid nursing home and medication bills topped $50,000, and she was in danger of eviction.
During the investigation, a Willmar Police Department investigator found checks from 2014 to 2018 totaling more than $90,000.
The totals for several years were listed in the complaint — $22,009.75 in 2015, $14,375 in 2016, $38,568.77 in 2017 and $9,966.64 in 2018. One of the checks in 2018 included $300 for clothing for the woman in his care.
Other checks were written for his home, vehicles, auto repair, property taxes, utility payments and his antique business. He also allegedly paid rent for two grandchildren.
The investigation began when a Willmar nursing home filed a report with the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center that the woman was possibly being exploited. A private person made a similar report.
The nursing home reported that the woman's medication and nursing home bills were not being paid and that she would have to leave if she did not pay her bills.
According to the complaint, other family members said she had about $240,000 in her account in 2010 plus monthly Social Security payments deposited automatically. Olson became responsible for her finances after that.
When investigators interviewed Olson, he refused to say whether there was any money left in the woman's bank account. He said he would go to the nursing home to pay her medication bill and would pay the nursing home bills when he was able to sell her house, according to the complaint. He said the house was all the woman had left.
When given an application for Medical Assistance, he reportedly said it wouldn't pay to fill it out because "he never has any luck dealing with those agencies."
According to court records, Olson was removed from his caretaker role because the woman's accounts had been depleted, and he had not tried to work out a payment plan with the nursing home or to work with them to apply for Medical Assistance for the woman.
According to the complaint, an emergency conservatorship was established in August 2018 to keep the woman from being evicted. The conservatorship was made permanent in November 2018.