ST. ALBANS CITY — A Milton woman will serve three years in prison after being sentenced Wednesday on a number of charges, including incidents in which she stole money from the elderly.
Judge Howard VanBenthuysen sentenced 44-year-old Bobbi-Jo Hodgdon to three to six years at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility for charges of false pretenses, two counts of violation of conditions of release, petit larceny, felony false pretenses, burglary, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and disorderly conduct. She was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $1,659.03 to victims stemming from the charges, which are not connected.
“This is not something I would have done if I was in my normal state of mind. Again, I feel horrible and have a lot of resentment toward myself for doing what I did,” Hodgdon said. “If I could pay them all back today, I would … I really wish that was the case.”
Hodgdon originally pleaded guilty to the charges in September 2019, but the sentencing hearing was delayed due COVID-19, Franklin County State’s Attorney Jim Hughes told the Messenger on Thursday. In the period between that plea and Wednesday’s sentencing, Hodgdon has accrued 21 new charges, including allegations that she and others exploited a St. Albans man for $120,000 last year.
Cases surrounding those subsequent charges are still active, and were not part of Wednesday’s hearing, Hughes said.
Hodgdon was sentenced for incidents that occurred in 2018. According to an affidavit by Swanton Village Police Sgt. Chad Parah, an investigation revealed that, through purchases and cash back requests, Hodgdon had stolen nearly $1,000 in May 2018 from the account of then-71-year-old Gilbert Young by changing the pin number on his debit card.
Young had a heart surgery three years prior, and suffered a stroke during the procedure, which led to cognitive impairments, according to the affidavit.
In a separate incident in September 2018, Hodgdon had entered the home of then-83-year-old Maxine Barney and taken money from her wallet, according to an affidavit filed in that case. In June of that year, Hodgdon was arrested for selling Krispy Kreme donuts, Walmart gift certificates, Hannaford Supermarket gift cards and Dunkin Donut gift cards to area residents, claiming that it was to support a fundraiser for Missisquoi Valley Union High School.
Hodgdon had also been arrested in June 2018 for retail theft at Adams Quick Stop in Fairfax.
“Ms. Hodgdon’s prior record was factored in asking for time served, but the steam behind all these cases is preying on elderly and infirm people,” said Hughes during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, in arguing for incarceration as opposed to probation.
Defense attorney William Norful said Hodgdon is seeing a private counselor weekly that is helping with Hodgdon’s mental health and drug concerns. He said Hodgdon has also been diagnosed with severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and ADHD, and is on a daily regimen of Suboxone.
“There’s been a rough road here, but there hasn’t been, for a while now, any infractions,” Norful said.
Hodgdon argued that incarceration would do more harm than good with regard to her rehabilitation. She said she has several employment opportunities that she is pursuing, and that she wants to continue to be a part of her daughter’s life and build on the stability she has found with her fiancee and broader support system.
She asked for a continuance of the sentencing hearing so that her fiancee and other character witnesses could attend.
“I just feel it’s very important making a decision like this … hearing it from significant people in my life who are going to be honest with you, telling you what’s going on, would make all the difference,” she said.
The judge noted that Wednesday’s hearing had been set on Feb. 25, and said the “defendant has had ample time to arrange for any witnesses.”
In sentencing Hodgdon, VanBenthuysen said deterrence of Hodgdon or others from committing similar crimes was a “significant consideration,” and that she had been on probation multiple times across 25 past convictions without success.
“Something needs to be done certainly to assist Ms. Hodgdon to begin the community and be a successful and contributing member of society,” the judge said. “Whether Ms. Hodgdon will gain insight from this sentence will remain to be seen.”