A final sentencing date for a South Carolina woman who took $500,000 from a Palmyra couple in 2010 and used it to buy herself a house has been set for Jan. 4.
Shaunda F. Melton, 45, will be sentenced at 9 a.m. by Judge Laurie Pittman in Portage County Common Pleas Court.
Melton was indicted by a Portage County grand jury on a first-degree felony theft charge and drug charges that could have put her in prison for more than a decade. Instead, she took advantage of a plea deal and pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of property, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Melton faces a maximum of 180 days in ail and $1,000 in fines.
In court last week, Pittman told Melton, her attorney Tim Hart and Assistant Prosecutor Sean Scahill that she is "very unhappy the prosecutor dropped this down to a misdemeanor. If I were the prosecutor, I'd be trying this as a felony."
The victims, who were represented in court by attorney Ralph Megargel, have had the deed for Melton's former home in Murrell's Inlet, S.C., transferred into their name so they can try to recoup their life savings.
Megargel said one of Melton's daughters was living in the house when a real estate agent he hired tried to enter the home.
Another of Melton's daughters, Tijuana M. Czerwony, 27, of Diamond, also was charged with theft in connection with the case. As part of her mother's plea agreement, Czerwony's charges will be dropped at her sentencing hearing, also scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 4, the judge said.
Portage County sheriff's detectives charged Melton with theft for stealing from the elderly Palmyra couple between January and December 2010, allegedly by convincing them to sign over power of attorney to her.
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