A Court Seems Unimpressed by Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Widow

March 10, 2021

I had another article prepared to run this morning. It had to deal with a FINRA regulatory settlement. There were some interesting aspects to the case but I opted to shelve the publication of that piece for another day. Why? Because my blood boiled after I read about the sentences handed out in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly widow. Now, mind you, my blood does tend to boil easily, and there are those who have become all too desensitized to my frequent rants and jeremiads. Hey, what can I say -- I'm passionate about what I do for a living. So . . . do me a favor, tell me if you too don't find your blood boiling after reading about today's apparent miscarriage of justice.

Over a year ago, the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ") published: "Two Former SunTrust Bank Employees Plead Guilty to Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person" (DOJ Release / February 25, 2020)
In DOJ's February 25, 2020 release we come upon this despicable fact pattern:

Rashad Liverpool, 27, and Robert Tillery, 44, pleaded guilty today of one count of Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Vulnerable Adult. The two former SunTrust Bank employees defrauded a 72-year old widow with diminished capacity of over $80,000, announced U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea. Both defendants agreed to pay restitution as part of their plea and will be sentenced on April 28, 2020.

According to the government's evidence, during the summer of 2018, Liverpool and Tillery would frequently visit the victim - a client of SunTrust Bank - after normal business hours and against bank policy. They identified funds that she held at Bank of America and took advantage of her diminished capacity in order to move these funds into accounts that they controlled. Liverpool moved $51,900 into a joint account that he created in his and the victim's name at Capital One Bank. He used all of the funds for his own benefit including two trips to California and one trip to Miami.  During the trip to Miami, Liverpool used the victim's funds to stay at a beach front hotel, rent a red Ford Mustang, and purchase items from the mini bar. Meanwhile, Tillery withdrew $3,000 in cash from one of the victim's accounts and wrote himself a check for $25,700 from another. He used these funds to make purchases at various outlet stores and move to Chicago. The scheme ended when the victim was hospitalized and a newly appointed Attorney-in-Fact discovered that the funds were missing.

After reading about Liverpool's and Tillery's exploits, you need to take a shower. The two bank employees victimized an elderly widow with diminished capacity. There is no mitigation whatsoever that I see in the facts as set forth in the February 25th DOJ Release. I awaited sentencing, which I fully expected would throw the book at the Defendants. 

I read and re-read and re-read, yet again, the March 9, 2021 DOJ Release. At some point I realized that this was the statement as to the sentences imposed upon Liverpool and Tillery:

The court ordered both defendants to pay restitution for the entire amount that they each stole. The court suspended imposition of each defendant's sentence to the maximum period of incarceration provided for under the D.C. Sentencing Guidelines, effectively sentencing each defendant to the maximum period of supervised probation.  The court may impose incarceration if a defendant violates the terms of probation.


Liverpool and Tillery stole about $83,000, so, yeah, I'm glad the Court ordered them to repay that theft. On the other hand, let's not forget that the February 25, 2020 DOJ Release state that "Both defendants agreed to pay restitution as part of their plea and will be sentenced on April 28, 2020." So, you know, if we're getting technical here, the Defendants previously agreed to the same restitution that the Court ordered -- umm, no, I'm not impressed by that order. Also, that April 2020 sentencing date didn't seem to come off like clockwork because here we are, just about a year later, and sentencing is just being imposed.

So, let's get to the meat of the March 2021 sentencing. How many years in prison? That's what I want to know.

First, we are informed, that the "court suspended imposition" of the "maximum period of incarceration provided." That tough-sounding language is merely a subterfuge. Instead of sentencing the Defendants to prison, the Court suspended any incarceration -- so who the hell gives a crap if the suspended term was one day or one hundred years? The Defendants ain't serving no "maximum" anything -- not a single day behind bars. As we read further, we learn that in lieu of prison time, the Court "effectively" sentenced the Defendants to the "maximum period of supervised probation."

Either the two DOJ Releases engaged in outrageous hyperbole and irresponsibly stoked the fires against Liverpool and Tillery; or, the Court didn't think the alleged crimes were worth much more than the act of contrition as evidenced by a promise to undertake restitution and, hey, let's not all get too excited here, how about we fuggedabout any prison time and just agree to some probation.

As I get older, I know that I miss stuff. On the other hand, someone, anyone wanna explain to me how these guys get to write out a check and walk out of the courthouse?