An Akron man was in court Wednesday — though not in the traditional sense — for the sentencing of his son and daughter-in-law for stealing his life savings of $600,000.
Michael Kaplan, the man’s court-appointed guardian, brought a box containing Herbert Story’s cremains to the hearing and placed them on the podium.
"I promised him that someday we would stand side-by-side and say to his son and daughter-in-law that they had abused him and stole from him and, worst of all, that they had lied to him when he trusted them with everything," Kaplan said. "So, today, I am keeping my word."
Kaplan said Herbert Story, 78, died alone, penniless in a nursing home last June, wearing ill-fitting clothes because he had no access to his money that was stolen by Kevin Story, his son, and Crystal Hennacy, his daughter-in-law, and later was tied up in the criminal case against the two of them.
Judge Jill Flagg Lanzinger sentenced Kevin Story, who cooperated with prosecutors, to four years in prison and Hennacy to nine years. Story faced 11 years, while Hennacy could have gotten up to 14 years.
Hennacy left the courtroom screaming and struggling with deputies, clearly shocked by the length of her sentence.
"He took everything from me!" she yelled, referring to Kevin Story, whom she claims was more to blame for the theft.
Prosecutors say Kevin Story and Hennacy stole more than $600,000 from Herbert Story over a period of several months in 2016. They say the couple had access to the elder Story’s accounts and used his money to buy a house, several vehicles, firearms, jewelry and a second honeymoon. The pair was arrested in November 2016.
Story, 47, of Akron, pleaded guilty earlier this month to theft from a person in a protected class, a first-degree felony, and criminal forfeiture specifications. Hennacy, 46, of Akron, pleaded no contest and was found guilty of this charge, as well as having weapons while under disability, which means she was prohibited from having a firearm.
Assistant Prosecutor Pete Daly said Herbert Story worked at Sugerdale Foods for many years and was very frugal. He said Kevin Story and Hennacy, Kevin’s fiancee and then wife, gained access to Herbert’s money and began spending it in a manner the elder Story never had.
Kaplan, who was appointed as Herbert Story’s guardian by Summit County Probate Court, said he tried several times to get money released for Story to improve his living situation, but the requests were denied because the funds were evidence in the criminal case. The attorney, who often serves as a guardian, said this case points to a need for better coordination among the courts and social service agencies in assisting elderly crime victims.
"We need to get our hands around elder abuse," he said. "We need to work together."
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.