Crawfordville, Florida - January 26, 2012 -
The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office sent the husband and wife team of Sgt. Ronald and Deputy Vicki Mitchell to South Dakota Sunday, Jan. 22 to bring a 40-year-old Crawfordville woman back to the county to face charges of grand theft and exploitation of the elderly in connection with an 18 month investigation by law enforcement officials in Wakulla and Leon counties, according to Sheriff Donnie Crum.
Teresa Mae Ehrisman left Florida during the investigation and law enforcement officials with the Hughes County Sheriff’s Office in Pierre, S.D. arrested the suspect on Jan. 5. She was held for WCSO deputies before waiving extradition which allowed her to be brought back to Florida to face the charges. The Mitchells drove to South Dakota in the dead of winter, waited out a severe storm in the St. Louis, Mo. area on the way north and eventually arrived back in Wakulla County on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Detective Matt Helms of the WCSO Financial Crimes Unit discovered that Ehrisman was appointed by the Florida court system to be a guardian for the 77-year-old victim in August 2007. The victim was living in Crawfordville at the time and has since moved to an assisted living facility in Tallahassee.
The case was originally reported to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office because the victim moved to Tallahassee. But LCSO detectives determined that the alleged crimes actually took place in Wakulla County.
Temporary guardians were appointed by the court to represent the victim from October 2009 until May 2010 when a new guardian was appointed by the courts. She began researching the victim’s finances at that time.
During the time Ehrisman was guardian, checks were written to the suspect’s company for the same amount as others approved by the court indicating that Ehrisman was double paying herself. Other checks and transfers to the suspect were also discovered during the investigation. The total amount of missing money from the victim’s bank account totaled nearly $28,000.
“You can cross many state lines but when you commit fraud against the elderly that crosses the line,” said Undersheriff Maurice Langston. “We made apprehending this suspect a high priority despite the time and effort required to get her transported from Pierre to Crawfordville.”
The Mitchells traveled to Hughes County, S.D. after avoiding the storm, stayed overnight, picked up their suspect, encountered more favorable weather and transported her back to Crawfordville. Ehrisman is being held in the Wakulla County Jail under a $10,000 bond.
Ehrisman was 39 years old at the beginning of the investigation. “The WCSO also learned that after leaving Florida she became a caregiver again South Dakota,” Undersheriff Langston concluded.