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November 19, 2020
LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a total of 12 charges – eight felony counts, one high court misdemeanor and three misdemeanors – against Jessica Englebrecht for allegedly abusing her authority as a guardian and embezzling from 11 vulnerable adults she was appointed by the Mason County Probate Court to protect.
Englebrecht, 33, of Scottville, was arraigned in Mason County 79th District Court in Mason County on Friday, Nov. 13. She was arraigned on the following charges:
- Eight counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult – $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a five-year felony and/or a $10,000 fine, or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater;
- One count of vulnerable adults – caregiver commingling funds/obstructing investigations, a two-year high court misdemeanor and/or $25,000 fine; and
- Three counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult – $200 or more but less than $1,000, a one-year misdemeanor and/or a $2,000 fine, or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.
Michigan State Police began investigating Englebrecht in 2019 following a referral from Adult Protective Services. It is alleged that Englebrecht embezzled more than $20,000 from the 11 vulnerable adults. Englebrecht was appointed as a guardian and/or conservator for the adults from 2017 to 2019. She allegedly used her position of power to gain control over her clients' finances.
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"Cases like this are precisely why my office has a unit specifically charged with evaluating reports of elder abuse and why there are a number of assistant attorneys general and investigators assigned to pursue bad actors," Nessel said. "It is appalling that someone the court trusted to look after the finances of these vulnerable adults may have taken advantage of their positions, and I am grateful to the Michigan State Police and especially Trooper Kelsey Case for her perseverance and commitment to finding out the truth. Michigan's Elder Abuse Task Force has recommended the certification of guardians to ensure they are qualified to serve the individuals under their care, and I am fully supportive of that measure."
Attorney General Nessel has made elder abuse a top priority for her administration, assisting in the creation of the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force. The task force has outlined several recommendations to improve protections for Michigan's elderly populations, including proposing a certification requirement for those serving as guardians. Currently, no qualifications or training is necessary to be a guardian, just a judge's appointment.
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Visit the Attorney General's website for more information on the Elder Abuse Task Force.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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