|Ashley Sweeney faces up to 120 years in prison |
Friday, July 13, 2012
By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer
A Ferrum woman charged with stealing wedding rings from elderly veterans at a health care center pleaded guilty Tuesday in Roanoke Circuit Court.
Ashley Michelle Sweeney, 23, pleaded guilty to four counts each of receiving and selling stolen property.
Sweeney admitted to accepting wedding bands taken from four patients at the Virginia Veterans' Center in Roanoke, where she worked as a nursing assistant, and selling them at two Roanoke pawn shops, according to Josh Dietz with the Roanoke Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.
Dietz said the plea agreement called for two counts of obtaining money by false pretense to be dropped, and four grand larceny charges were amended to receiving stolen property.
Sweeney and Brittney Heather Cook of Rocky Mount were working as nursing assistants when they were arrested in February during an investigation into thefts at the veterans' care center, Dietz said. The two women worked together on the same shift at the center.
The rings were sold at the pawn shops for $360, Dietz said. An appraisal of the rings valued them at $4,600. The four rings were recovered and returned to their owners, he added.
Cook, who is charged with grand larceny, selling stolen property and obtaining money by false pretense, is scheduled for a jury trial in Roanoke City Circuit Court on Monday, July 30 at 9:30 a.m.
Sweeney's sentencing hearing is set for September. The maximum sentence for the eight charges to which Sweeney pleaded guilty is 120 years in prison.
The victims in the case were elderly, ranging in age from 77 to 89, and had served in either World War II or the Korean War, Dietz said.