A local woman faces two felony charges after reportedly stealing more than $1,000 in antiques and trying to resell the items falsely claiming the owner was dead.
Carolyn Denise Seals, 54, has been charged with financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable adult, a Class D felony.
She’s also charged with theft over $1,000 but less than $2,500, a Class E felony.
Seals was indicted on both charges by the Warren County grand jury earlier this month.
According to the indictment, Seals wrongfully obtained the property from a family member without permission between the dates of Feb. 19 and Feb. 27 of this year.
This included antique furniture and glassware. She then tried to sell the antiques as her own, claiming the former owner was deceased.
“The person is in fact very much alive,” said District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis, who has worked to strengthen laws pertaining to abuse against the elderly.
Last year as chair of the Elder Abuse Committee for Tennessee District Attorneys, Zavogiannis worked to get legislation passed on the state level to enhance the punishment for those convicted of crimes against mentally challenged individuals or the elderly, defined as persons 70 and older. The crime is enhanced one class.
The result is a longer sentence.
For example, a Class E felony carries a 1 to 2 year sentence, while a Class D felony carries 2 to 4 years.
The committee continued its work this year and got legislation passed to enhance fines for those who commit elder abuse.
That money is then put in a fund to help victims.
Zavogiannis also worked to increase the punishment for the most serious elder abuse offense.
“If you neglect an elderly person to the point where they die, you can now be charged with felony murder,” said Zavogiannis. “Previously, the highest charge was second-degree murder.”