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Fort Dodge woman sentenced to federal prison for defrauding elderly disabled veteran out of life savings

SIOUX CITY – A Fort Dodge woman who used a power of attorney to defraud an elderly disabled veteran out of more than $120,000 was sentenced May 21, 2021, to more than two years in federal prison.

Janice Kay Jurgensen, age 40, from Fort Dodge, Iowa, received the prison term after a December 22, 2020 guilty plea to one count of wire fraud.

In a plea agreement and at the sentencing hearing, Jurgensen admitted that, in 2018 and 2019, she stole the life savings of an elderly resident of a nursing home. The victim suffered from significant cognitive and physical disabilities due to dementia and a severe stroke. The nursing home resident was a veteran who had served in the Army and was stationed in Germany for a time. The victim had lived frugally during his lifetime and was related to Jurgensen.

In 2018, Jurgensen hired a lawyer to draft a power of attorney for her victim, which purported to appoint Jurgensen as the victim’s attorney-in-fact with complete authority to manage his financial affairs. The victim ostensibly signed the power of attorney form despite his disabilities. The form stated Jurgensen was not entitled to any compensation and could not make any gifts to herself. After obtaining the power of attorney, however, Jurgensen used a debit card linked to her victim’s bank account to make purchases for her own benefit, including food, gas, teacher union fees, “wonder nails,” and a dating website. As a result of Jurgensen’s crime, her victim lost his life savings and was unable to pay for his nursing home care.

Jurgensen was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. Jurgensen was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment. She was ordered to make $122,351.93 in restitution to her victim’s conservator. She must also serve a two-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Jurgensen callously stole her elderly victim’s life savings. The sentence she received reflects the seriousness of her crime,” Acting United States Attorney Sean R. Berry stated. “Our office will continue to vigorously prosecute those who target the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

Jurgensen was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the United States Marshal’s Service on a date yet to be set.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Iowa Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

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