FOLEY -- A Benton County judge has sentenced a Rice woman for illegally obtaining medical assistance while acting as the guardian and conservator for a man who was hurt in a car crash. Fifty-four-year-old Sheila Burski was also charged with two counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult for taking social security payments intended for that man, 69-year-old Norman Meinert.

Burski was found guilty on all three charges following a three-day trial in April. She was sentenced to 10 days in jail, supervised probation for 10 years, and must pay more than $122,000 in restitution.

Burski was appointed Meinert's guardian in December 2013. She listed Meinert had no assets when filing for medical assistance for him. From 2013 until Meinert's death in the fall of 2017, the county and state paid approximately $132,000 in medical assistance payments.

Upon his death, Burski completed a final accounting of Meinert's estate and court records show several discrepancies, including a real estate sale from Meinert to Burski and her husband in the amount of $510,000 in 2005.

In 2011, records show the contract for deed was satisfied somehow. Based on the monthly payments, Burski would have paid just over $162,000 of the $510,000. It's unknown if the nearly $350,000 remaining on the property was ever paid to Meinert.

The charges stated Burski didn't disclose the property sale.

The contract for deed was satisfied in 2011 and with Meinert's accident occurring in 2013, the money fell within the 5-year look-back window to disclose assets. It ultimately would have prevented Meinert from qualifying for the medical assistance payments.

Burski was also charged with taking Meinert's social security payments, cashing them through her own bank account, and failing to disclose those payments over a three-month span in 2017 prior to Meinert's death.

Court records indicate Burski plans to appeal the verdict.

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