Woman gets 15 years for exploitation

The Baltimore Sun

An Elkton woman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for exploiting an elderly man and obtaining property through a theft scheme, authorities said.

Tara Timing Spellman, 45, picked up a 78-year-old Havre de Grace man with heart problems and the onset of dementia and drove him to a branch of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union. She represented herself as Phillip Ficken's granddaughter to obtain a loan in his name in 2006, according to Bill Christoforo, Harford County assistant state's attorney.

"She made this ruse about being his granddaughter and that they needed a loan to pay for the funeral of a family member in Georgia," Christoforo said.

Christoforo described Spellman as someone who preyed on elderly people.

In the October 2006 incident, Spellman obtained power of attorney, which gives legal authority to another person to make financial and other legal decisions, to gain access to Fickens' bank account. Fickens lost more than $4,800, according to the prosecutor.

Spellman took checks from another man and wrote the checks payable to Fickens, Christoforo said. She deposited the checks to Fickens' account and withdrew cash, he said.

Will Abercrombie, Spellman's defense attorney, said they are appealing the case. He said his client had a "long-standing romantic relationship with the alleged victim, Mr. Fickens."

"Take the state's case and any allegations with a grain of salt," he said.

According to court records, Spellman has been charged numerous times with theft, fraud, obtaining property of a vulnerable adult, exploitation of a vulnerable adult and forgery. She used several aliases, including Carol Wilson, Tonya Wells and different variations of her full name, Tara Timing Wilson Spellman, according to court records.

In August 2007, she wrote a letter to a Harford County judge describing a childhood filled with abuse, a destructive family life and a "$1,000 a day crack habit."

"I know I've had a long run, but I'm tired and I need some extensive help," she wrote to the judge.

In another pending case, Spellman is charged with theft, two counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and fraud; she is accused of obtaining $18,000 in loans using power of attorney, according to court records.

A criminal jury trial has been scheduled for Aug. 13.


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