June 1, 2017
Judge Orders Full Restitution of $88,414.65
Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that Yohannes Habtemicael, 27, of Reno, was sentenced for exploitation of an older person, a category “B” felony, for converting funds entrusted to him as his father’s guardian for personal use. The fraudulent acts were committed between August 2014 and November 2015.
In 2014, Yohannes Habtemicael was appointed as the permanent guardian of his 67- year-old father Tewolde Habtemicael and his estate, after it was determined that Tewolde Habtemicael was unable to care for himself. As a guardian, Yohannes Habtemicael was entrusted with funds for the limited purpose of providing for his father’s care. However, he subsequently converted more than $88,000 of his father’s funds for his own personal use.
Second Judicial District Court Judge Jerome Polaha sentenced Habtemicael to 24-120 months in prison, and ordered him to pay full restitution in the amount of $88,414.65.
“Financial exploitation can take many forms, and commonly involves trusted persons of a vulnerable adult,” said Laxalt. “This sentencing sends a message that abuses committed against our elderly will not be tolerated and will be aggressively pursued and prosecuted. I am proud of how effective my Elder Abuse Section of the Financial Fraud Unit has been in responding to a statewide increase in financial fraud and guardianship exploitation.”
In July, 2016, the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee unanimously approved AG Laxalt’s request to combat increasing financial fraud within the State using non-taxpayer settlement funds obtained by his office. AG Laxalt’s request included the allocation of approximately $400,000 of non-taxpayer settlement funds to the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada in order to boost their capacity to fight civil guardianship exploitation and abuse. In the attorney general’s new budget, the Legislature reauthorized the financial fraud positions, as well as additional funding for Washoe Legal Services to combat elder exploitation in Northern Nevada counties. Although the Office of the Nevada Attorney General does not have primary jurisdiction over guardianship matters, the Office will continue to prosecute meritorious cases from District Attorney Offices who either refer or decline prosecution.
This case was investigated by the Office of the Nevada Attorney General’s Financial Fraud Unit, and was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Ronda Clifton.
To view the criminal information for Yohannes Habtemicael, click here. If you or someone you know has information regarding a suspected instance of fraud, you may file a complaint with our office here.
(Photo courtesy of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office)