Crime

Former caregiver pleads no contest to stealing from elderly clients in SLO

Gallagher Daniel Persson
Gallagher Daniel Persson SLO Sheriff's Office

Less than a week before he was to stand trial, a former in-home caregiver accepted a plea deal to reduce his penalty when he’s sentenced next month for stealing nearly $50,000 in coins, silverware and other antiques from an elderly San Luis Obispo couple.

Gallagher Daniel Persson, 35, had pleaded not guilty to a felony count of theft by a caretaker of over $400 with an enhancement for having a prior robbery conviction.

On Thursday, Persson pleaded no contest to the charge and admitted the enhancement. His trial was scheduled to begin next week.

The deal could cut Persson’s jail time in half.

Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham said Persson faced a minimum sentence of probation and a maximum of four years in either San Luis Obispo County Jail or state prison for the theft charge, a sentence the judge could double because of Persson’s past conviction.

With Thursday’s plea, Cunningham said, he instead accepted a maximum sentence of two years, which could again double because of his prior conviction.

Persson could still receive formal probation with no jail time, Cunningham said.

At the time of his arrest on Nov. 14, 2014, Persson worked for Senior Helpers of San Luis Obispo, an Atascadero-based in-home caregiver company.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department said that an Atascadero police detective discovered several sales receipts for gold and silver that listed Persson as the seller to a secondhand dealer.

After finding that he worked as a care provider, Atascadero and San Luis Obispo police conducted a joint investigation into possible elder abuse.

Persson had cared for an elderly San Luis Obispo couple for more than a year, investigators found, and had received more than $47,000 by pawning numerous pieces of gold and silver coins and antique silver serving utensils. Officers found about $15,000 in additional property stolen from the same couple when searching his Los Osos home, San Luis Obispo police said.

The thefts were believed to have been committed between October 2013 and September 2014.

Linden Mackaoui, Persson’s defense attorney, declined to comment on the plea.

Senior Helpers of San Luis Obispo owner Richard Snouffer also declined to comment Thursday but confirmed that Persson was fired immediately following his arrest.

No state regulatory action was taken against the provider.

Persson is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rita Federman on Dec. 10 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

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