Douglas County District Judge Shay Whitaker on Wednesday sentenced Candi L Phipps, 37, of Denver to seven years in prison for stealing from an at-risk adult in her care and neglecting her patient.
A jury in January found Phipps guilty, even though the victim had died and could not testify.
“This victim was 100 percent reliant on others. She was physically frail and emotionally vulnerable,” Deputy District Attorney Erika Reuer told the court in her sentencing argument. “Nothing can make whole the wholesale damage this defendant did to the victim’s family.”
The case began in 2013, when the victim hired Phipps through an agency to help with errands and chores. In January 2014 the victim fell and fractured her vertebrae. After surgery she required full time care in professional medical facilities. Phipps left the agency and continued to work as the victim’s paid companion from January until December 2014.
During that time, the victim’s dependence on Phipps grew as Phipps gained her trust. Phipps demanded more money but failed to document any hours worked, services provided or produce receipts for items purchased. More than $33,000 disappeared without documentation during the last four months of 2014.
Phipps removed the victim from a facility in Parker in December 2014 asserting that she was the victim’s nurse, and that the victim’s home had been remodeled to accommodate her medical needs.
The case manager associated with the victim and her family before the transfer to the Parker facility reported her concerns of undue influence to the Parker Police Department, which began investigating and working with Adult Protection Services on behalf of the victim.
In December 2014 the court appointed a guardian and two special conservators for the victim, who by that time had been moved back to Arapahoe County by Phipps, where the victim’s home had been made into a construction zone by an unlicensed handyman.
Phipps was charged in January 2016.
On Jan. 13, 2017, a jury found Phipps guilty of theft of more than $500 from an at-risk adult, a Class 3 felony; and of neglect of an at-risk victim, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
“As a greater number of our neighbors and community members get older, we see a greater number of those who seek to prey upon them. It is more insidious when it is someone in a position of trust. We remain vigilant and committed to holding those accountable who victimize the most vulnerable among us,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “The court cannot sentence Phipps to feel shame for her outrageous conduct, but she should … for a long, long time. I am proud of our law enforcement partners that investigate these cases thoroughly, and my office will continue to aggressively prosecute crimes against at-risk victims.”
“This case is a demonstration of a betrayal of trust,” Judge Whitaker said in imposing the court’s sentence. “The victim deserved and needed better than she got.”
Phipps was sentenced to seven years in the Department of Corrections on the felony count, followed by a mandatory five-year period of parole. Phipps was sentenced to six months in jail on the misdemeanor count, to be served in prison concurrently. Restitution will be determined at a hearing at a later date.