Woman gets 5 years prison for elderly exploitation in North Aurora

A 41-year-old Joliet woman has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $34,000 restitution for stealing from a client while serving as a state-contracted ombuds at a North Aurora assisted-living facility in 2015.

Mary E. Pfingston, of the 3000 block of Hutchinson Street, was arrested in December on a host of felony charges accusing her of stealing from a woman at Ashbury Gardens while working as state contract worker for Senior Services Associates.

Pfingston, who has since changed her name to Mary McMillan, pleaded guilty to felony financial exploitation of an elderly person in mid-February, a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison, and left it up to a judge to decide her fate Thursday.

Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler said society needs to protect its vulnerable, elderly population and noted she was still on probation after pleading guilty to stealing some $5,900 while working just two months in early 2014 as officer manager for a doctor in Joliet.

"We're not going to allow people to take advantage of, in any way, shape or form, any of our elderly citizens. It can't happen, those are the people who raised us," Tegeler said, noting the victim lost her home in Westmont and must rely on Medicaid and lacks money to choose the doctors she knows and trusts.

McMillan made a brief statement to the judge and ended with, "I am so sorry to everyone."

Defense attorney Gregory Reeder argued for probation and noted that $15,000 the victim gave was a "donation" to a cancer fund for McMillan's medical expenses. Tegeler, however, noted McMillan willfully ignored her training, which banned her and other ombuds from accepting gifts and donations from clients.

The victim, who hoped to temporarily stay at the Ashbury Gardens, wrote a statement that was read in court by Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Seberger.

In it, the victim noted how she had a reverse mortgage but lost her home to foreclosure after McMillan stole from her and exhausted her line of credit. The woman wrote that "shock and stress" made her health deteriorate.

"Mary robbed me of my dignity and took away my hopes for how to live the rest of my life," read part of the letter.

McMillan has five years after her prison release to pay restitution.

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