(CMR) Hermaine Stoney (66) walked away free from court yesterday despite pleading guilty to defrauding the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU) for some seven years of $30,000. Justice Marlene Carter gave her an absolute discharge because of poor health and stated that in the circumstances the custody threshold has not been met.
Due to her ill health, the judge found that she is also not able to complete a community-based sentence. Additional mitigating factors were that Stoney, a former receptionist at CUC, has no previous convictions and now lives overseas. Stoney was set free yesterday after the judge deliberated.
The alleged circumstances of the case are that Stoney neglected to inform NAU that she owned a $290,000 home which she claimed in her defense was the family home to be left for her only child. Despite the property being in her name, her defense shared that, as a single mother, she had considered the property as belonging to her son once. During the investigation, she told police that the property was sold to cover his fees for overseas legal studies.
She approached NAU for assistance after losing her job in 2007. She then suffered a series of debilitating strokes that impacted her ability to read, write and speak. During a 2014 NAU review, she did not reveal the sale of the property to them as is legally required. At the time she was assisted by social workers and had “severe memory impairment”. Once NAU became aware of the sale she was arrested. It was revealed that proceeds from the sale were used to clear off debts, purchase some food and “essentials” for herself. The remaining funds were then given to her son.
Her attorney submitted that because of the criminal charges since has been unable to receive any services from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and was left destitute. Except for prescription medicine assistance and was left at the mercy of her friends and family.
Stoney has since moved to the United States to live with her sister and was given a complete discharge with no conviction recorded.