It took a jury only 15 minutes Tuesday to convict a Franklin County woman of bilking two disabled veterans out of more than $19,000.
Cammie Henson, 43, of 6929 Bagdad Road, was accused of fudging time sheets and lying about expenses while she was in charge of caring for Jack Browning Sr., a Korean War Army veteran who died in June, and Jack Browning Jr., a former Marine who was severely injured in a 1976 motorcycle accident.
Now she faces 25 years in jail.
“I’m glad justice was served,” family member Virginia Browning said after the decision was handed down in Franklin Circuit Court.
Virginia Browning — the daughter-in-law of the elder Browning and the sister-in-law of his son — took over their care after Browning Sr.’s wife, Billie Browning, died in 2010.
She testified that Billie Browning hired Henson, and since the family already employed her, she was placed in charge of overseeing all of the Brownings’ caretakers.
Virginia Browning and her husband lived out of state or out of the country the entire time Henson was in charge of the Brownings’ care.
“I trusted her because my mother-in-law trusted her and my mother-in-law trusted no one,” she said on the stand while being questioned by Henson’s public defender, Londa Adkins. “Who am I to go in there and scrutinize?”
But she noticed something wasn’t right when Henson sent her one week’s time sheets.
Virginia Browning said the time sheets included more than 168 hours of pay — the total number of hours in a week. Virginia said there was only supposed to be one caregiver on the clock at all times.
She said she called and had the caretaker on duty, Kathy Balser, help her compare the emailed records with the time sheets kept at the Brownings’ home.
She said that conversation — and others that came after it — clued her in that Henson wasn’t to be trusted.
That’s when she said she confronted Henson.
“I showed her my evidence — each part one by one,” Virginia Browning told jurors. “She didn’t have much of a retort or a response at all.”
During her testimony, Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland showed jurors Virginia Browning’s evidence.
Jurors looked at copies of receipts that Henson sent to her as records of where the Brownings’ money was being spent.
The receipts showed withdrawals from the “household account” which was funded by disability payments to both the men from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
As Cleveland pointed out, many receipts showed payments were being made to Charlene Hano, another one of the Brownings’ caretakers who was employed by Caretenders, an independent home health company.
Hano testified she was paid only by Caretenders and never received any money from the Brownings or from Henson.
The receipts also included other falsified charges, such as $195 for a handicapped toilet that was actually provided free by the VA and $295 to see a doctor at Frankfort Foot Clinic when the Brownings’ insurance policy actually had no co-pay.
In total, Virginia Browning claims Henson stole more than $19,000 from the family.
In court, the jurors watched a tape of Franklin County Sheriff’s Office investigator Richard Starnes’ interview with Henson after Virginia Browning reported the crime.
On the tape, Henson admitted she took the money for herself.
The defense argued Virginia Browning was unclear with Henson about her job duties. They also mentioned that caregivers often deal with a great deal of stress or “caregiver’s fatigue.”
The defense did not call Henson to testify.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, the jurors were also asked to consider a third and fourth charge against Henson of being a persistent felony offender, stemming from a 2011 guilty plea that she stole from Bagdad Baptist Church Daycare in Shelby County.
Henson took the stand during the sentencing phase wearing a hoodie and jeans. In few words, she asked the jurors not to take her away from her husband and two children.
“It really hurts,” said Henson, about the thought of leaving her family to go to prison. “I don’t think everything was fair today.”
It took about 40 minutes for the jury to return the second time with its recommended sentence, also convicting Henson of being a persistent felony offender.
The jury recommended a total of 25 years in prison.
Cleveland explained to jurors during closing arguments that Henson may not serve her entire sentence. After one-fifth of it —five years — she would be eligible for parole.
“It could have been a whole lot stiffer,” Virginia Browning told The State Journal. “But I think it was fair.”
Henson was taken into custody after the trial.
Final sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 10.