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Healdsburg Caretaker Sentenced To County Jail For Theft From Elderly Woman

SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) -- A Healdsburg family and marriage counselor was sentenced in Sonoma County Superior Court Thursday morning to six months in jail for stealing $25,000 from an elderly woman who suffered from dementia.

Andrew Ross, 47, pleaded no contest in May to one felony count of elder abuse by a caretaker.

Ross, who founded Creative Counseling for Elders and Families, took the money from the 86-year-old woman's bank account via online transfers and checks between December 2014 and March 2015.

He used the money to pay his taxes and take a vacation in Mexico, Deputy District Attorney Sharmalee Rajakumaran said.

A social worker with the county's Adult Protective Services informed Santa Rosa police about the theft in March 2015.

Defense attorney Richard Ingram said Ross repaid the woman, who has since passed away, $22,000 by April 2015.

"He has been extremely remorseful from the day it happened and knows the impact it had on the victim. He's done a lot of good work as a therapist," Ingram said after the sentencing.

Ross' license as a clinical social worker was suspended pending the outcome of the case, and Judge Patrick Broderick prohibited Ross from working as a professional caregiver as one of the terms of his three years' probation.

Rajakumaran told the judge the victim, who had no family and was in a facility for elders with dementia, had a difficult time trusting anyone after the theft was discovered. The judge said Ross likely will lose his caregiver's license.

The judge told Ross he could apply for work release or electronic home confinement in lieu of the six-month jail term. If denied, he will serve half the term in the county jail, which awards two days credit for each day served, Rajakumaran said.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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