Caregiver gets eight years for stealing $77,000 from Church Hill physician

Jeff Bobo • Feb 26, 2009 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A woman who served as caregiver for a well-known Church Hill physician for a decade was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for stealing more than $77,000 from the man over the course of nearly four years.

Betty Ilene Castle, 36, 172 Austin Mill Road, Rogersville, appeared before Circuit Judge John Dugger on Thursday, where she pleaded guilty to one count of theft over $60,000, a Class B felony.

Castle had served 10 years as a personal caregiver for the late Dr. Warner L. Clark, who passed away Aug. 27, 2007. Clark practiced medicine in Church Hill for 41 years.

The indictment states that Castle stole the money in increments of $400 to $1,600 between Aug. 11, 2003, and April 17, 2007.

“She had been a caregiver for Dr. Clark for some time and had been in a position of trust, and she abused that trust to the tune of $77,697.55,” Assistant Attorney General Alex Pearson said following court Thursday. “She would put in the check registry that the checks were being paid to individuals for legitimate bills, but when you looked at the actual canceled checks, she’d made them out to herself. Of course Dr. Clark was ill, and he didn’t know it was happening.”

The thefts were discovered by family members in 2007.

“His children were helping with his caregiving, and they discovered that money was not where it should be,” Pearson said. “They looked into it closer, and that’s when they found that the check logs didn’t match the checks themselves, and that those checks had been written to Betty Castle.”

The case was then investigated by Church Hill Police Department Detective Dustin Dean, who eventually charged Castle.

Defense attorney Russell Maddox petitioned the court for alternative sentencing Thursday to avoid jail time for Castle on the grounds that she is a first-time offender.

Pearson said Clark’s family was opposed to alternative sentencing, he argued against it, and Dugger ruled in favor of the prosecution.

Castle will be eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of her sentence.

She was also ordered to pay full restitution to Clark’s estate.

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