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Voelker v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

June 27, 2018

TAMARA KAY VOELKER, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

          Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County The Honorable W. Thomas Sullins, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane Lozano, Wyoming State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; Christyne M. Martens, Deputy Attorney General; Caitlin F. Harper, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

          Before BURKE, C.J., and DAVIS, FOX, KAUTZ, and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.

          DAVIS, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] Tamara Voelker appeals from the judgment and sentence entered after her guilty plea to one count of intentionally exploiting a vulnerable adult.[1] She contests only the restitution award of $43, 821.30 to the gentleman whose resources she depleted, 89-year-old Wallace Reaves. We affirm.

         ISSUE

         [¶2] Voelker makes a single argument:

The district court erred when it held that the State had met its burden of proving the amount of restitution.

         FACTS

         [¶3] Upon finding that he was increasingly unable to care for himself, manage his finances, and pay his bills, Reaves initially welcomed the assistance offered by Voelker, whom he considered a friend. She claimed that he occasionally gave her gifts in return. However, by mid-April of 2016, Reaves discovered that she had misappropriated all the funds he had saved for anticipated home health care that would permit him to live out the rest of his life in his own home.

         [¶4] He informed his family about his predicament, and after examining his accounts, his daughter-in-law reported the matter to the Casper Police Department. At roughly the same time, the Department of Family Services' testing of Reaves' orientation, memory, and concentration indicated that he might be impaired by dementia.[2] Detective Shannon Daley eventually took charge of the investigation into Voelker's alleged sixteen-month exploitation of Reaves.

         [¶5] In the course of her investigation, Detective Daley examined Reaves' checking account with Hilltop National Bank and his credit or debit card accounts with Reliant Federal Credit Union, U.S. Bank, Sears, and American Express. Voelker was able to make purchases through those accounts. Although the detective had mixed success in obtaining additional records from the vendors involved in the purchases, she found several hundred transactions that appeared to exploit Reaves.

         [¶6] The nature of a majority of those transactions made it unlikely either that Reaves initiated them or that he benefitted from them. For instance, online purchases predominated, but he lacked both the equipment and knowledge necessary to make them. Well over 100 transactions involved the purchase of e-books, and he did not have a reader for those books and suffered from glaucoma. Nearly 250 charges were made to Jewelry Television for approximately $13, 700 worth of jewelry. Over $1, 660 was spent on online beauty products. More than $3, 500 was spent for utility and communications services at Voelker's address or from providers other than those used by Reaves. Medical service providers other than those he used were paid $2, 459, $918 was paid to a different auto insurance company than the one he used, and over $1, 470 was charged on credit cards ...


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