WASHINGTON – Jasmine Renee Worthy, 54, of Washington, D.C. was sentenced on September 25, 2020 by the Honorable Judge Robert A. Salerno of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia to 60 days incarceration to be followed by five years of supervised release, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin, Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Karl Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Worthy pled guilty in December 2019 to one count of Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult or Elderly Person and five counts of Theft related to money that she wrongfully obtained from five additional victims. Worthy was also ordered at sentencing to pay a combined restitution amount of $58,465 to victims of the offense.
According to the factual proffer, over the course of nine months, between 2018 and 2019, Worthy exploited a blind adult woman who had inherited a sum of money from a deceased family member. Specifically, Worthy’s scheme involved holding herself out as someone who specialized in finding homes for people who had been denied housing in the past, were poor or who had poor or no credit. Worthy led the victim to believe that she would use the funds provided by the victim to locate a suitable home for the victim and her two minor children to live. During the course of the scheme, Worthy often went with the victim to the bank to obtain cash from the victim’s account. Worthy exploited the victim, completely depleting the victim’s bank account of approximately $40,200.
From March to April 2019, Worthy obtained $2,400 from another victim who had been denied housing and had been referred to Worthy’s company, Second Chance Housing. The victim, who was pregnant at the time, met with Worthy, along with her minor child, in a parking lot in Southeast DC. The victim explained the urgency of her living situation and that she would be homeless if unable to find a place to live. Worthy took the victim’s money and shortly thereafter stopped communications with her. As was revealed at sentencing, following the theft of her money, the victim was forced to move with her minor child to a shelter.
In March 2018, another victim gave Worthy $3,900 for DC housing vouchers and furnishings which Worthy told the victim that she would secure. After numerous attempts by the victim to either get the defendant to provide the services and merchandise or return the money, Worthy ceased communications with the victim. Worthy similarly promised another victim that she would locate a home for the victim. This victim gave Worthy $4,800. Worthy never applied the money to a home or furnishings for the victim and stopped communications after repeated demands by the victim for return of her funds. Another couple in search of an apartment for rent met with Worthy, explained that their credit was bad and gave Worthy $2,665. The couple was never shown any apartments and Worthy cut off communications with them.
The final victim hired Worthy as a property manager for her DC home when the victim had to leave the DC area in order to care for an ill relative who resided out of state. Worthy convinced the victim that she needed to provide $4,500 to Worthy so that Worthy could have an escrow account set up and held by the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). No escrow account was established. Worthy stopped communications with the victim after repeated requests by the victim for return of her funds.
At sentencing, the prosecution team appeared remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic alongside victims and their families and argued before the court that notwithstanding the ongoing pandemic, the defendant’s actions, lack of remorse, and the significant harm caused to DC residents in need of housing warranted time in prison.
In announcing the sentence, Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin, and MPD Chief Newsham commended the work of the Metropolitan Police Department Financial and Cyber Crimes Unit, which investigated the case alongside investigators from the Office of the Attorney General. They also cited the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie G Miller and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer C. Mika, on detail from the Office of the Attorney General to handle financial crimes cases involving elderly victims, who investigated and prosecuted the cases from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia with support from Paralegal Specialists Sabrina Turner and Chad D. Byron.
This prosecution is part of the Office’s wider efforts to combat crimes against seniors. In 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia simultaneously launched initiatives to address the abuse and exploitation of older adults. The Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Initiative at the U.S. Attorney’s Office expanded its response to criminal and civil violations targeting older adults. The initiative has enabled the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia to develop and coordinate further the prosecution of these cases and enhance overall support of older or vulnerable victims in the District of Columbia. The team consists of experienced prosecutors and victim advocates from across these two Offices, to include the Superior Court, Criminal, and Civil Divisions, as well as the Victim Witness Assistance Unit. This prosecution is indicative of the continued collaboration between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute cases of this kind.