Montco woman pleads guilty to bilking paralyzed man

Janet M. Gitney, 58.
Janet M. Gitney, 58.
Posted: October 05, 2012

A Lansdale woman pleaded guilty this afternoon in Montgomery County Court to bilking a paralyzed stroke patient in her care out of property and savings worth $370,000.

Janet M. Gitney, 58, of the 700 block of Brian Way, said she understood what she was agreeing to as Judge Joseph A. Smyth accepted the plea during an afternoon hearing in Norristown.

Last year, Gitney was charged by Hatfield Township police with theft, fraud, forgery, and misusing her position as trustee for Eugene Waldspurger, 58, formerly of Hatfield.

In 2007, Gitney moved the disabled man into her Lansdale home to manage his health and finances, according to court records. The thefts occurred between 2009 and 2011.

After Waldspurger was hospitalized in June 2011, the records said, Gitney took possession of his house, fixed it up with his retirement savings and sold it. The home was valued at $222,334, the documents said.

She also drained several bank accounts bearing his name, then admitted Waldspurger to a nursing home as a pauper, the papers said.

The scheme crumbled when a cousin contacted the District Attorney's Office alleging the theft of the home at 458 S. Main St., Hatfield. Police began investigating, and on Sept. 26, 2011, filed theft and related charges against Gitney.

Just before police moved in to arrest her, Gitney fled to the Phillippine Islands, but investigators tracked her with the use of travel documents, and she knew she was wanted as a fugitive.

Gitney was arrested Nov. 22, 2011 as she stepped off a plane in New York after a flight from the islands. She has been incarcerated at the Montgomery County prison on $7.5 million bail since her return.

Prosecutors have begun liquidating her assets to make restitution to Waldspurger, according Gitney's court-appointed attorney, Gregory L. Nester.

In a separate matter, Gitney also pleaded no contest to recklessly endangering another person for abandoning her own father when she fled to the Phillippines. That means she isn't guilty, but doesn't dispute the charge.

Gitney was primary caregiver for William Wiley, who lived with her and required around-the-clock care due to advanced Parkinson's disease, according to District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

"He could not speak, walk or feed himself," Ferman said. When Gitney left the country, the father was left with "no care whatsoever."

Wiley was discovered within a day by hospice personnel, who arranged for immediate medical care, Ferman said.

Assistant District Attorney Steven Latzer said Wiley has since died at age 98, but Gitney is not charged in his death.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com. Read her 'MontCo Memo' blog on philly.com.

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