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TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — New Jersey officials say a Pennsylvania woman who stole nearly $78,000 from a great aunt who suffers from dementia has been sentenced to three years in prison. Deanna Attinello, of Easton, Pa., must also pay $48,000 in restitution. The 26-year-old Easton resident had pleaded guilty last November to misapplication of entrusted property.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office says the thefts started shortly after Attinello was appointed in January 2017 to serve as the legal guardian for her 86-year-old great aunt, who lives in a long-term care facility in Warren County.

Credit: New Jersey Attorney General’s Office

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“Financial abuse of the elderly is even more egregious when it deprives a victim of funds needed to provide for proper care in an institutional setting,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “The prison sentence handed down to this defendant sends a clear message that those who cruelly prey on New Jersey’s vulnerable senior citizens will be held accountable.”

Authorities say Attinello withdrew large amounts of cash from her great aunt’s account by writing checks to herself, her boyfriend and her father. They say she had taken more than $77,000 after just four months, leaving only $26,000 in the account.

(©Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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