Greenwell Springs man sentenced for exploiting elderly, infirm Watson woman

Woman c onvinced to hand over money

A state district judge sentenced a 43-year-old man Thursday to seven years in prison after he convinced an infirm 75-year-old woman who thought they were in a romantic relationship to give him money and property.

Judge Bruce Bennett, of the 21st Judicial District Court in Livingston Parish, also ordered Gary Gorman, of Greenwell Springs, to pay restitution. Gorman was found guilty Oct. 1 of exploitation of the infirmed.

Bennett said the restitution totaled at least $260,000.

Between August 2009 and May 2011, Gorman preyed on the victim, Gloria Cushing, convincing her they would eventually marry, the District Attorney’s Office has said.

Cushing, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia and depression in 2009, gave Gorman $80,000 from a reverse mortgage she took out on her home in Watson.

Gorman also received two plots of land from Cushing, maxed out her credit cards, obtained her power of attorney and took $132,000 from an annuity left by her deceased husband, the District Attorney’s Office has said.

“I just wanted justice to be served,” said Jo Ann Carr, Cushing’s sister. “It’s been a long, hard road that we have traveled.”

Michael Betts, Gorman’s attorney, said he disagreed with the jury’s verdict. He said Gorman did not exercise any “undue influence” on Cushing.

“I don’t think the state proved that Mr. Gorman knew of her disabilities,” Betts said to Bennett. “Four other notaries testified that she was perfectly competent when she gave her property to him.”

Bennett countered by saying it’s unlikely any notary would testify that Cushing was “crazy.”

“I don’t consider you to be a bad man,” Bennett said to Gorman. “I just consider you to be a bit predatory.”

Carr said Durwin Walker, Cushing’s doctor, testified during the trial that Cushing was in no condition to make serious financial or legal decisions at the time.

Carr said she and her family had begged Cushing to move to their home in Oak Grove, about an hour outside Monroe. Carr said Cushing had lived in Watson for years.

Cushing now lives in an elderly care center and is doing much better, Carr said.

Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputies began investigating Gorman’s relationship with Cushing in May 2011 after a home health care worker found Cushing at her home partially naked, with blood over her left eye, according to a Sheriff’s Office report. Cushing had fallen at her home.

Deputies later learned the state’s Elderly Protective Services Office also had begun investigating the money Cushing gave Gorman.

A report from Elderly Protective Services says Cushing told a state worker in February 2011 that she had mortgaged the house for $80,000 but had given Gorman only $6,000 of that money.

Cushing said Gorman had been her boyfriend for about two years and helped her around the home. She said Gorman also helped pay her bills.

Gorman told one of Cushing’s social workers that he wanted to marry Cushing, the report says.

Neighbors of the victim told Elderly Protective Services workers that Gorman started visiting Cushing in 2008 after he met her while taking pictures of Hurricane Gustav damage, the report says.

Those visits increased after Cushing was hurt in a 2009 wreck.