Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Former Schools Finance Chief Pleads Guilty to Elder Abuse

Helen Gao: (619) 718-5181;

SAN DIEGO – A man who once oversaw the finances of the San Diego school district has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of elder abuse for taking money from his former secretary while she was battling cancer.

Henry Hurley, a retired chief administrative officer of the San Diego Unified School District, changed his plea to guilty Monday.

He initially pleaded not guilty after being charged with caretaker theft from the elderly, a felony that carries a maximum four-year prison sentence.
He agreed Monday to make restitution of $10,441 to the victim, Mildred Catlin, who is in her 70s. In exchange for the plea and restitution, the charge is to be reduced at sentencing to a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail. If he fails to follow through with restitution, the felony charge would be reinstated.

Hurley declined to be interviewed after his change of plea.

He worked for the school district from 1972 to 2002, when he retired. Catlin, who worked with Hurley for some three decades, signed the power of attorney to him when she was suffering from cancer and gravely ill.

According to the arrest warrant for Hurley, who now lives in Henderson, Nev., Catlin told a police investigator that Hurley abused the authority she entrusted him with to manage her financial affairs.

Catlin was hospitalized three times in 2006. When she returned home, she discovered that Hurley had written checks to himself, had traveled several times using her money and had used her credit cards for questionable expenses, the warrant said.

Hurley hired an “unqualified, uncertified” caregiver who is also facing charges of caretaker theft and grand theft.

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