A woman who pleaded guilty to felony financial exploitation of a vulnerable senior was given three years supervised probation on April 15.
Tristen Brewer, 24, must also pay $656 in restitution for neglecting her duties as caretaker of 69-year old Kenneth Bray by drawing unauthorized money from Bray’s bank account. Brewer was also originally charged with intentionally abusing Bray, but that charge was dismissed through an Alford plea that she made with the state last September, which is a guilty plea containing a protestation of innocence.
“Ultimately, Ms. Brewer decided she wanted to accept a plea agreement as opposed to going to trial,” Brewer’s attorney, Branden Vilos, said. “She wants to take responsibility for her involvement. That speaks volumes about this. We’re not here to relitigate the case. This is a very complicated case, the evidence shows a lot of different factors involved here.”
When authorities visited Bray at his Meeteetse home in July 2019, they found a man dehydrated, malnourished, lacking proper hygiene and having lost a significant amount of weight since the Wyoming Department of Family Services and Park County Sheriff’s Office had last seen him.
Although Brewer had been hired to take care of Bray in the year leading up to the charges being filed, she was not his officially designated caretaker. As part of her duties, she was given Bray’s checkbook and debit card to buy food and other items for him. Authorities determined Bray received enough money from his pension and social security to cover his bills, yet they found numerous occurrences of his payments being denied due to insufficient funds and eight bounced checks that he did not approve.
Although Vilos made multiple mentions of an “unnamed co-defendant” during the sentencing, deputy prosecuting attorney Jack Hatfield said he has no knowledge of such a person existing. He said Brewer’s father, Mike Brewer, was investigated for a short while at the beginning of the case, but the state is not planning on bringing any charges against him at this time.
Vilos and Hatfield both commended Tristen Brewer’s lack of criminal record and ability to turn her life around after originally being charged about 18 months prior.
“It was a serious offense but … she rehabilitated herself,” Hatfield said. “These actions were based on her drug usage clearly. She’s no longer using drugs.”
Hatfield said Bray approved of the final charges and that more fines could have been leveled against Brewer for Bray’s medical costs.
Once Brewer completes her probation, she could seek a pardon from the governor and could expunge the felony from her record 10 years after her probation expires. If she violates her probation, she could be sentenced to 2-4 years in prison.