MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — A rural Cassville woman entered an Alford plea this week to a charge of financial exploitation of the elderly with respect to use of her mother's Social Security checks while she was in a nursing home.

Megan C. Curran, 33, entered the plea Wednesday in Lawrence County Circuit Court, where she had been scheduled to go to trial on the charge.

An Alford plea admits no guilt but acknowledges the likelihood of a conviction if the matter were to proceed to trial. Curran entered the plea as part of a plea agreement with the Lawrence County prosecutor's office that called for a suspended sentence and probation.

Circuit Judge Jack Goodman accepted the plea deal and assessed Curran five years for the conviction, but he suspended execution of the sentence and placed her on supervised probation instead for five years. The judge also ordered that she pay $775 in restitution.

A probable-cause affidavit states that the defendant's mother was placed in the Lawrence County Manor in January 2017 and that the defendant signed paperwork at the time committing all of her mother's Social Security income to payment of her bills there. The affidavit alleged that in four months' time, the defendant accrued $775 of her mother's income for other purposes. The document states that she told an investigator with Mount Vernon police that she used the money to buy her mother personal items.

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