MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Maple Grove city councilwoman has pleaded guilty to a charge accusing her of stealing thousands of dollars from her dying father.
On Wednesday morning, 63-year-old Leann Sargent specifically pleaded guilty to one felony count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Sargent entered a straight plea and no sentencing agreement was reached with prosecutors.
“Prosecuting these vulnerable adult crimes is hard and sad,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “This case took a great deal of effort to investigate and prosecute, but it had to be done.”
According to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, Sargent had power of attorney for her sick father, and while he was in her home, she took his money. She took more than $153,000 from her father between 2008 until his death in March of 2012, prosecutors say.
Sargent used this power to pay herself from her father’s checking and money market accounts, a criminal complaint says. She’s also accused of taking cash advances from her father’s credit card.
“She exploited him after illness that caused him to live in her house,” Freeman said. “Not only did she charge her father $500 a month to live in her house, she also charged him $1,500 a month for services.”
Sargent filed for bankruptcy, and under oath lied about the money she was getting from her father, prosecutors say.
“She under listed, or failed to list, the $1,500 a month she was getting, she also failed to acknowledge all the cash advances,” Freeman said.
Her brother alerted police after their father died with a little less than $400 in his accounts.
She took from her father to keep money away from her brother, Freeman says.
“She was going to inherit the father’s house that had a mortgage on it; the two of them were going to split the family cabin, which didn’t have a mortgage. She went and caused to have a mortgage taken out on the cabin, so she could pay off the mortgage on his home,” Freeman said.
Voters re-elected Sargent to another term on Maple Grove’s city council. Freeman says the charges have nothing to do with her position. Maple Grove’s city administrator said Sargent is innocent until proven guilty.
The Maple Grove city administrator, Al Madsen, says the mayor and city attorney will be notified of Sargent’s plea and have no comment at this time.
Sargent’s sentencing is set for April 7.