Attorney General Lockyer Announces Elder Abuse Conviction

Friday, January 22, 1999
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(NAPA COUNTY) Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced today the entry of a guilty plea by Debra Jennings Eagle Bear, 36, in Napa County Consolidated Court for the 1996 embezzlement of $140,000 from the estate of a 105-year-man, Daniel Sanchuck, now deceased. At the time of the theft, Debra Jennings Eagle Bear was the victim's sole caretaker.

Charges were filed last year by the Attorney General's Office following a joint investigative effort by the Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud, Elder Abuse Prosecution Unit, the Napa County District Attorney's Office and the St. Helena Police Department. Charges of grand theft and elder abuse by embezzlement were filed against Eagle Bear, her father, Dr. R. Dean Jennings (the victim's physician), and her husband, Willard Eagle Bear Morrison. Dr. Jennings was also charged with two felony counts relating to evidence destruction when investigating officers served a search warrant for the seizure of the victim's medical records.

Following the filing of charges against the trio, further investigation revealed that Eagle Bear was predominantly, if not solely, responsible for the actions by which Mr. Sanchuck's life savings were depleted from his bank accounts.

Debra Eagle Bear pleaded guilty to elder abuse by embezzlement, an offense punishable by imprisonment up to four years. She is scheduled to be sentenced March 12, 1999. In exchange for her plea, and her acknowledgment of sole responsibility, the related charged against her father and husband were dropped.

The independent charges against Dr. Jennings for the criminal destruction of evidence remain pending. That matter is presently scheduled for preliminary hearing on February 25, 1999. If convicted, Dr. Jennings could be imprisoned up to three years.

The matter was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Gary Binkerd.

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