A Newton woman has been sentenced to serve eight years in state prison after pleading guilty to one count of financial exploitation of the elderly.

Maciha LaQeish Lewis, 25, was charged with stealing more than $25,000 from a retired educator.

Lewis recently requested alternative sentencing to include community service and/or probation. However, Dale County Judge Kimberly Clark denied the request and sentence Lewis to serve time in the state penitentiary, said Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams, who said the case was the worst scam used to victimize the elderly he has seen.

“Ms. Lewis approached a retired educator who was working with Wallace Community College,” Adams said. “Ms. Lewis over time approached the victim requesting assistance for emergencies, and so-called needed items. She even convinced the victim to obtain several payday loans. It was also determined Ms. Lewis, a family member with multiple children, approached the victim requesting the victim take out a second mortgage on her home to help Ms. Lewis.”

According to Adams, during the investigation it was determined Lewis tried to pay the victim back with bad checks, and after that scam fell through, Lewis had family members pose as representatives with a family service center.

“The so-called representatives with the family service center informed the victim they would stand good to repay all Ms. Lewis’ debts,” Adams said. “If the victims’ bank had not contacted the victim’s nephew, there is no telling when this crime would have ceased.”

Adams reminds all family and friends of the elderly to keep an eye out for their best interests.

“We have to watch over our elderly friends and family members,” Adams said. “We are seeing more and more widows, widowers, and single elderly victims become targets of financial exploitation,” Adams said. “If you believe a family member or a friend is a victim of financial exploitation, call your local Department of Human Resources or your local law enforcement agency. Help protect our elderly residents.”

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