By: Patti Weaver

(Stillwater, Okla.) — A Stillwater woman has avoided a Jan. 27 jury trial by pleading no contest to financially exploiting an 87-year-old man and his wife — by charging $4,680 on his credit card, court records show.

Stephanie Lynn Martin, 55, remains free on a personal recognizance bond pending her sentencing on March 13 for exploitation of elderly persons, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Payne County Sheriff’s Investigator Rockford Brown wrote in an affidavit that an 87-year-old man said he hired Martin in March of 2018 as a caretaker for his wife, who had recently experienced mobility issues and needed extra help.

In November of 2018, the man “gave Martin a Southwest Visa credit card in her name and made her an authorized user on his account,” the affidavit said.

The man said he allowed Martin to use the card for business purposes only, but he “did allow Martin to use the card to help her pay for a trip to Florida in late November 2018,” the affidavit said.

On Dec. 20, 2018, Martin and the man “got into a dispute at his residence over $200 he had withheld from her paycheck,” the affidavit said. The next day, Martin called him and said she was quitting her job, the affidavit said.

When the man received his December bill from Visa, “he discovered over $4,300 in charges that he never authorized Martin to make,” between Dec. 20 and Dec. 21 of 2018, the affidavit alleged.

“Upon further investigation, he discovered three more unauthorized charges: $173 on Nov. 15, 2018, $37.07 on Dec. 8, 2018, and $170.54 on Dec. 13,” the affidavit alleged.

When the investigator spoke to Martin, she said the man “had allowed her to use the card for personal purchases,” the affidavit said.

“She acknowledged to using the card on Dec. 20 and 21, but felt she was within her right to do so, as (the man) had allowed her to purchase personal items before and had directly told her she could do so,” but the man denied ever allowing her to use the card for personal reasons aside from the Florida trip, the affidavit alleged.