Jury convicts Scottville woman on 11 counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult

September 15, 2023

Jessica Englebrecht is sworn in by Judge Timothy Hicks. Seated next to her is her attorney Tracie Dinehart. At right is Michigan Assistant Attorney General Daniel Gunderson.
– MCP file photo

Jury convicts Scottville woman on 11 counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult

LUDINGTON – Jessica Englebrecht, 36, of Scottville, was found guilty by a jury in Mason County’s 51st Circuit Court Thursday, Sept. 14, of all 11 charged counts for abusing her authority as a guardian and embezzling from 10 vulnerable adults she was appointed to protect and commingling their funds, stated Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in a press release issued Friday, Sept. 15.  

The jury convicted Englebrecht of:   

  • Eight counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult – $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a five-year felony and/or a $10,000 fine, or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater;
  • One count of vulnerable adults – caregiver commingling funds/obstructing investigations, a two-year high court misdemeanor and/or $25,000 fine;
  • One count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult – $200 or more but less than $1,000, a one-year misdemeanor and/or a $2,000 fine, or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater; and
  • One count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult – less than $200, a 93-day misdemeanor and/or a $500 fine, or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater. 

Michigan State Police began investigating Englebrecht in 2019 in conjunction with Adult Protective Services, said Attorney General Nessel. Englebrecht stood trial for embezzling more than $20,000 from 10 vulnerable adults. She was appointed as a guardian and/or conservator for the adults from 2017-2019.  

“Those the state trusts in court-appointed positions of power as guardians and conservators must be held to the highest standards and must be held accountable when they use their position criminally,” said Nessel. “I applaud the jury and prosecutors for securing justice in this case, and the investigators at Michigan State Police and Adult Protective Services for their commitment to uncovering this abuse. Michigan’s Elder Abuse Task Force has many recommendations to protect those under guardianship, including the certification of appointed guardians, and I remain committed to pursuing that measure.” 

Attorney General Nessel has made elder abuse a top priority for her administration, assisting in the creation of the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force. The task force has outlined several recommendations to improve protections for Michigan’s elderly populations, including proposing a certification requirement for those serving as guardians. Currently, no qualification or training is necessary to be a guardian, just a judge’s appointment. 

Englebrecht rejected a plea deal  Aug. 18 that would have included no jail time. In light of the jury’s verdict Thursday, that deal is no longer on the table and Englebrecht faces incarceration.

Michigan Assistant Attorney General Daniel Gunderson with the Financial Crimes Division offered a plea agreement in which Englebrecht could have pleaded “no contest” to one felony count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult and a misdemeanor of commingling funds from a vulnerable adult. The other nine charges would have been dismissed.

Englebrecht told the Traverse City Record Eagle in a May 22, 2022 article that she was being unfairly targeted by the AG’s office. She is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 31. 

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