DEER LODGE — An Anaconda woman pleaded not guilty in Deer Lodge district court this week to felony exploitation of an elderly man.
Sherri Smith, 50, is accused of influencing an 86-year-old Deer Lodge man to extract at least $6,747 from him between July 2015 and May 2017 while presenting herself as an unofficial caregiver and friend. She allegedly worked around the house and spent time with him and tried to force out his hired caregiver but was rebuffed.
According to court records, Smith would take the man from the Senior Center to the bank to get money and then return to the center. Frontier Home Health service workers allegedly found receipts for cigarettes — the man doesn’t smoke — and for groceries not in his house.
On May 24, 2017, Smith allegedly called the man to bail her out of the Anaconda jail. Even though his eyesight is bad and he stated he should not drive, he drove to Anaconda to bail her out.
Bank representatives also reported numerous checks written on his account to various businesses until the man was allegedly unable to pay his bills, lost his phone and TV service, and was threatened with foreclosure.
Smith is free on $7,000 bond pending further court proceedings. If found guilty, she could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $10,000.
In other court action this week:
• Frank Hiltz, 22, of Deer Lodge admitted to nine allegations of probation violation, and a six-year deferred sentence was revoked.
His violations included failure to complete a sex offender treatment program, texting and sexting the victim, and being where children congregate when ordered to stay away from kids under 18 years of age without supervision.
Judge Ray Dayton told Hiltz, “You chose to continue your criminal sexual behavior with numerous violations of your probation and are a danger to children. You are a dangerous young man, and your victims are children. I do not believe you should be in the community unsupervised anytime soon; it is time to emphasize protection of the community.”
Dayton declined the recommendations of attorneys for a lesser sentence and sentenced Hiltz to 15 years in prison with five years suspended. He will not be eligible for parole before completing phase one and two of sex offender treatment. A $500 fine, $100 court costs, and $25,000 for the victim’s counseling bills set when originally sentenced will carry forward. Hiltz was designated a Tier II risk to re-offend. He was remanded to custody and given credit for 91 days served.
On May 9, Hiltz pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in a plea agreement that reduced the charge from sexual intercourse without consent and was given a six-year deferred sentence with 44 conditions and placed under supervision of the Adult Probation and Parole Bureau.