From tears to anger: Woman curses prison sentence

A Whipple woman who stole drugs and money from an elderly woman in her care went from tears to anger when she was sentenced Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to nearly three years in prison.

Samantha “Joy” Hardie, 34, of 70 Walnut Drive, cursed the 34-month sentence, throwing a bottle cap off the defense table and gesticulating wildly enough that a corrections officer had to repeatedly ask her to calm down and stop moving before handcuffing her.

It was a sharp contrast from just minutes before the sentence was pronounced when Hardie-sobbing throughout the entire sentencing-apologized for stealing $2,000 from Thelda Hall, an 82-year-old woman whom she had cared for from March to September of 2013.

“Words can not express how sorry I am. I’ve asked God a thousand times to forgive me. I hope Thelda can, too,” said Hardie through tears.

Hardie pleaded guilty to three fourth-degree felony counts of theft, two for drugs and one for money.

Hall was not present at sentencing. Despite an objection from Hardie’s attorney, Jack Blakeslee, two of her guardians spoke on her behalf.

The case has had a profoundly negative impact on Hall, said Almuth Tschunko, a guardian.

Hall stopped going to church because she was often in too much pain, said Tschunko. It was not until months later that it was discovered her prescription pain medicine had been stolen and replaced with over-the-counter aspirin, she added.

Another guardian, Linda Steelman, said Hardie continued trying to manipulate Hall and other clients in her care after the missing money was discovered.

“She had already called her other clients and wanted to arrange to work for them for cash,” she said.

Steelman questioned the hiring methods of Foster Bridge Home Health, the program through which Hardie was employed despite multiple prior criminal charges.

“They said they are only required to do a state background check, not a municipality check,” concluded Steelman.

Hardie has previously spent time in prison on a theft offense, pointed out Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

Hardie has already made restitution to Hall for the stolen money, but that does not negate the fact that serious economic harm was done to the victim, reasoned Schneider in his recommendation for a prison sentence.

Blakeslee cited a recent ruling from the higher courts which favors community control for crimes such as Hardie’s.

“My client has children. She has a house. She has…myriad…health problems,” said Blakeslee.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane said Hardie appeared to be genuinely remorseful. But her past convictions indicated Hardie was a poor candidate for community control.

He ordered 17-month prison sentences-one month shy of the maximum-on all three charges. The sentences on the two felonies related to prescription thefts were to run concurrently to one another but consecutively to the charge for theft of money. The total sentence is 34 months.