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Grandson Sentenced For Stealing From Grandparents

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Sonora, CA – Calling it “a crime of opportunity and involved preying on the trust of elderly relatives,” the prosecution noted this type of crime happens more than most would think.

21-year-old Christian Tyler will spend the next eight months in the county jail after a jury convicted him of first degree burglary and theft from an elder last month. Those elders were his grandparents, Joan and Ib Madsen, and he was convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from their Sonora area home. Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter, who handles all elder abuse prosecutions in Tuolumne County reveals, “It [elder thefts from relatives] seems to be on the rise [in the county] and I don’t know what the explanation is because there was a time that I thought because of the down turn in the economy and that people were more desperate. I don’t know if those same economic indicators are there, but the numbers of cases coming in are on the rise.” Regarding whether drugs are also to blame, Hovatter continues, “With a lot of elder abuse, sometimes prescription pills are fueling their addiction by stealing from elders, so drug are definitely a component to some of these cases.”

In the case of Tyler, drugs were not an issue, according to Hovatter, who details that the first time money was found missing was in 2016 when Tyler went to his grandparents’ home when they were on vacation. Mr. Madsen testified that Tyler later admitted to him that he took the money that was being saved to by a car and also included about $2,000 for “Tyler’s post-graduation fun.” At the time, Madsen did not report the theft to law enforcement. About a year later, another wallet with nearly $2,000 went missing at the Madsen’s home. This time the grandparents reported both thefts to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s office. On the stand Tyler admitted to taking that money.

Although Tyler faced a maximum of seven years in prison, Hovatter indicates that his youth and lack of prior criminal history along with his grandmother’s request for leniency resulted in the lighter sentence.  He adds that Tyler’s conviction for first degree residential burglary is a strike and will expose him to prison time if he commits another felony in the future. Tyler also agreed to pay $11,000 in restitution to his grandparents.

  • Christian Tyler booking photo