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Man gets fine, time served for stealing from dying mother

A Woodbury man was sentenced Friday to time served and nearly $10,000 in fines and restitution after pleading guilty to stealing about $170,000 from his vulnerable mother. Errol John Gilbertson II, 31, told police he used his mother's money because of his addictions to methamphetamine and gambling, according to the criminal complaint.

His mother, Vicki Gilbertson, was diagnosed in January 2007 with brain cancer and suffered from dementia and aphasia. At the time of her diagnosis of cancer she had more than $160,000 in her bank accounts, according to the complaint. When she died at age 58 on July 22, 2007, Vicki Gilbertson's two bank accounts had balances of -$9,880.51 and -$944.00.

The complaint alleges that the defendant took out a credit card in his mother's name without her consent or knowledge and used it to spend $89,049.89.

St. Louis County Attorney Melanie Ford said it was unusual for Gilbertson to not receive prison time, but said a judge rejected a plea deal to have him serve one year in a drug treatment facility. Instead, judge Mark Munger sentenced Gilbertson to 51 months in prison should he violate his eight-year probation, which includes having him stay in school or a full-time job, no similar violations, and no contact with one of his victims. Gilbertson also was given credit for having served 194 days in jail.

According to the court complaint, after his mother died, Gilbertson attempted to cash two of her Social Security checks and withdrew $70,000 from an insurance account of his mother's by faxing power-of-attorney papers to show that he had the authority to make the request. Gilbertson refinanced his mother's home and received an equity check for about $30,000. The home was refinanced for $112,000 and payments were not made. The home is now in foreclosure.

The complaint also alleges that the defendant purchased a 2007 Chevy Equinox with his mother's money and forged her signature to turn the title of the vehicle over to himself. He refinanced the vehicle and received a loan of about $20,000. The defendant also admitted using a falsified W-2 form to obtain the loan. Gilbertson told an investigator that he had written more than $15,029.70 in bad checks from his mother's accounts, which were closed or no longer had sufficient funds.

According to court records, Gilbertson has been charged with nine thefts in St. Louis, Carlton, Cook and Dakota Counties, including other theft-by-swindle cases. He also has two pending cases for violating orders for protection in Washington and Hennepin Counties.

The Duluth News Tribune is part Forum Communications, also the parent company of the Woodbury Bulletin