A jury in Boulder, Colorado, have convicted a woman of swindling a half-blind 73-year-old man out of his trailer home after he said he'd give it to her if she agreed to take care of his cat after he died. Catharine Pierce, 58, was found guilty of felony theft and criminal exploitation of an at-risk elder on Wednesday. Pierce gained notoriety in Boulder in 2009 when she was involved in a dispute over her practice of gardening while topless. She faces up to 12 years in prison when she is sentenced on March 18.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit from Boulder police, Pierce and her husband, Robert Pierce, moved in with an elderly man who owned a trailer in Boulder in 2014, staying rent-free for about seven months.
Police said the victim in the case told the Pierces that they could have his trailer after he died if they agreed to look after his cat, which he said was the only thing he cared about in the world.
While she lived with the victim, Catharine Pierce convinced him to sign what he thought was an agreement to that effect, but he had actually signed over and sold her his trailer for $1, according to police.
She later attempted to have him evicted.
Catharine Pierce successfully sued the man, who could not attend the court hearing because he was scheduled to have cataract surgery the following day, and a judgment was entered against him to turn over his home.
Boulder County Deputy District Attorney Jane Walsh, who prosecuted the case, worked with local law enforcement, court officials and county protective services to block the eviction about a week before it happened.
Robert Pierce was not charged, but he has an unrelated assault case still open against him in Boulder County Court.
Boulder police allege he assaulted a Regional Transportation District security guard for telling Catharine Pierce that she could not be topless at the Boulder Transit Center in 2014.
District Attorney Stan Garnett said the case was important because it involved the exploitation of an elderly person, and cases like this one are often complex and challenging for prosecutors.
"The community should know that if they are concerned about a senior who they know in the family, or a friend or neighbour, who may be a victim of exploitation, the should call Adult Protective Services or my office," Garnett said.