Hampton woman gets two years for charging $21,000 on client’s family’s credit cards

A Hampton woman was sentenced to two years in federal prison on Tuesday for racking up $21,637 on credit cards she took from the home of an elderly client she was working for.

Sandra Payne, 58, got the mandatory time she faced after pleading guilty in February to one count of aggravated identity theft, with 18 other charges dropped as part of a plea agreement. She was sentenced in Norfolk federal court Tuesday by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar.

According to court documents, Payne worked as a caretaker at a private residence in Newport News. She took Discover and PNC Bank credit cards that were in the name of her client’s spouse, according to a statement of facts agreed to by both sides as part of the plea deal.

Between December 2017 and April 2018, the statement of facts said, Payne used those credit cards for — among other things — car services at Pomoco Nissan in Hampton, hotel stays at SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Virginia Beach, and electronics, goods and clothes.

The court documents don’t say when the client’s spouse discovered the credit card charges. But prosecutors charged Payne in December with nine counts of wire fraud and 10 counts of aggravated identity theft.

Doumar allowed Payne to report for prison on July 18. Her attorney asked for self-reporting to smooth the transition given that she cares for her ailing father, court documents said. Doumar recommended that she be sent to a prison as close as possible to Hampton Roads.

The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners “coordinated the largest sweep of elder fraud cases in history” in 2018, the U.S. attorney’s office said. The sweep included 250 defendants and more than a million victims — most of them elderly. U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for its work on the case.