Washington state man jailed for stealing $1 million from 107-year-old woman

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 05, 2012 9:09 PM
Washington state man jailed for stealing $1 million from 107-year-old woman

By Laura L. Myers

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state caregiver received a 10-year prison sentence on Friday for stealing $1 million from an 107-year-old woman who was left living in feces-strewn squalor while he spent her money on guns and tractors, prosecutors said.

John Herbert Friedlund, 79, was sentenced by Stevens County Superior Court Judge Al Nielson, a day after jurors convicted him of first-degree theft, local deputy prosecutor Lech Radzimski said.

Friedlund lived on a ranch near Kettle Falls, a town 210 miles northeast of Seattle. He had been the caregiver to Frances Swan, 107, for four years and stole the money from her retirement account, prosecutors said.

He spent the $1 million on 300 to 400 guns and other items such as tractors and horse trailers, Radzimski said.

Swan was bedridden in a back room of her squalid Kettle Falls home filled with dog feces when deputies discovered her in May 2011, he said. She begged them for nourishment. Rotting food filled the kitchen and garbage was stacked floor-to-ceiling.

She now lives in a nursing home.

The jury convicted Friedlund of the theft with two aggravating circumstances - violation of the victim because of her vulnerability and his position of fiduciary responsibility over her.

"This is the worst instance of theft and abuse we've had in the county. Six officers said the home was the worst they'd ever seen," Radzimski said.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Peter Cooney)