CLEVELAND — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced that two Brecksville residents have been sentenced to serve time in prison after being convicted of stealing money from legendary late professional golfer Charles Sifford Sr.
Craig Sifford, Charles Sifford’s son, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated theft last month. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan sentenced him yesterday to three years in prison.
Craig Sifford, 49, and his ex-wife Sandra Sifford, 49, were both indicted in July 2015 following an investigation conducted as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Elder Justice Initiative by agents with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) with assistance from Cuyahoga County Adult Protective Services.
Sandra Sifford, who previously pleaded guilty to charges of theft and receiving stolen property, was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.
Both suspects were ordered to pay a total of $315,000 to Charles Sifford’s estate.
The case was prosecuted by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
“Exploiting the elderly is a crime, and these defendants blatantly misspent funds that should have be used toward Charles Sifford’s care,” said Attorney General DeWine. “This case shows that there are consequences for this type of behavior.”
“Charlie Sifford trusted these family members while they helped themselves to their inheritance,” said Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Paul Soucie, chief of the Economic Crime Unit. “That man, that American, that legendary golfer, deserved better than that.”
The investigation into the theft was launched prior to Charles Sifford’s death after a complaint was made to law enforcement alleging that Craig Sifford was abusing his role as his father’s power of attorney. After examining volumes of financial accounts, BCI agents found that the pair used the money, which should have solely been used toward Charles Sifford’s care, on items such as travel, dining, clothing, jewelry, landscaping, and other expenses between 2010 and 2013.
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office and Internal Revenue Service also assisted with the investigation.
Attorney General DeWine launched the Elder Justice Initiative in 2014 to increase the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases and improve victims’ access to services in Ohio. Anyone who suspects incidents of elder abuse or financial exploitation should contact their local authorities or the Attorney General’s Elder Justice Initiative at 1-800-282-0515.