Former Utah teacher jailed for stealing parental money

Former Utah teacher jailed for stealing parental money

Holly Massey Free was sentenced to nine months in prison in Webber County Jail after she pleaded no contest to charges related to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from her elderly parents. (Kristen Murphy, Desert News)

Estimated reading time: 7-8 minutes

Ogden – Their daughter, Hanisia Massey, said on Wednesday HC and Betty Massey were such good people. Their housing complexes housed low-income and formerly homeless people, and were the “pillars of society”.

That’s why she said it was hard to tell that their “souls were hurt” by the actions of her sister, Holly Massey Fry.

In 2020, Frye was accused of selling her elderly parents’ property and using the money to buy a house for herself and a car for her daughter.

Frey, 51, did not file a dispute in July for the exploitation of a vulnerable adult and the unlawful handling of property by third-degree felons. Five other charges, including theft and communications fraud, were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

2nd District Judge Joseph Bean on Wednesday sentenced Frey to two terms of zero to five years in prison, but suspended her sentence and instead ordered her to spend nine months in the Weber County Jail. Sixty days will be a “hard time”, which means that Massey will be completely imprisoned during those days; But the remaining seven months will be served through a daily reporting program, which requires violators to check in daily at a central location and participate in certain programs or other activities.

He also ordered that he be placed on probation for 36 months after her release. Bean suspended a fine of $5,000 per issue, and was ordered to pay only $950 at a minimum rate of $50 per month starting in January 2023.

A civil case is still pending.

Hanisya Massey said Wednesday her current total loss estimate in the case is $2.8 million, but she believes that with taxes in mind, the amount is $3.6 million.

Frey’s parents were over the age of 65 and both have since died. Frye’s father suffered from dementia, according to shipping documents, although Frye’s attorney said Wednesday that he has not been formally diagnosed.

In January 2019 Frye prepared and “caused the execution of a power of attorney, giving her control over several real estate properties owned by her (her father). On or around February 28, 2019, the defendant obtained a second power of attorney giving him her extensive authority to administer business affairs (for her father) on his behalf,” the charges stated.

In May 2020, prosecutors said, Fry sold one of her father’s properties on Grand Avenue in Ogden, then sold two others on August 5, 2020. “On the same day, using the same broker (who was also the buyer of the two properties) and the defendant purchased a residence for herself,” the charges said. .

In September of 2018, Frye’s parents owned more than $2 million in rental properties, according to the fees. “By September 30, 2019, only $1 million of that property remained and more than $60,000 of property sale expenses in addition to heavy capital gains tax expenses incurred had been incurred.”

Court documents claim that during the same time, Frey’s parents went from $1.2 million in cash to $110,000.

Frey was accused of transferring at least $200,000 from her parents’ account to hers, and writing more than $150,000 in checks that were turned into “cash.”

But the exact cash amounts and whether or not Frye actually stole from her parents were hotly disputed during Wednesday’s ruling.

Frye’s attorney, Thomas Weber, said the no-contest requests were entered because if Frye mismanaged any money, it would not have been intentional.

He believes adults on probation and parole are “assuming the worst”, and should do a more thorough investigation, saying that Frey devoted a lot of time and “spiritual energy” to managing her parents’ property.

Webber said that Fry learned the value of work while growing up and was a school teacher for 21 years – her “real passion”. He said she left her career to manage her parents’ property and provide full-time health care for her father.

In her court statement, Fry said that since the age of 16, she has been the only sister who has stayed close to home despite being a single mother. She also said that she gave her father the most help, even when she was busy as a school teacher.

Fry said she spent the money remodeling her father’s apartment complexes, which he wanted. She said she still has student loans, saying she hasn’t used the money on herself.

She added that her father had his own way of doing business and she was simply following suit.

If a judge had read the things said about her, Frye said, “I would have convicted that person. (But) that person is not me.”

However, the judge said that an educated person like Frye should know that any agreements about how the money will be spent must be in writing.

He added that he sometimes interacted with Frey’s father during court proceedings related to evictions of tenants and had great respect for him. Bean said H.C. Massey didn’t always like the way the court did things, but he always complied with its orders.

Bean said he was concerned that Fry, according to a pre-sentencing report, “believes she is the victim here.”

He also said that given the sometimes conflicting and incomplete reports he was given about the sums of money, he was not sure how to fairly determine the severity of the crime.

But Attorney General Sean Bryan argued that it was not the amount of cash that mattered so much as Fry’s betrayal of her family. He said the victims were exploited in an “unreasonable” way, and her actions prove their intent.

For example, Brian said that Fry left her job, took a salary greater than the company’s total revenue, and at one point sent a text message that read, “My dad was too trying to keep the money from us.” He said she felt worthy of the money, and wanted to punish her father.

Hanisya Massey added during her statement that Frye sent a text message in 2019 saying, “I am angry with my brothers for not taking revenge on my father like me.”

Since learning of the charges against her sister in 2020, Massie has said that she has buried her parents and two brothers. She believes that all of their health problems have been exacerbated by Frye’s actions, and has said that she is unable to properly grieve for them.

Massey said Fry drained the Social Security and retirement accounts of her bedridden mother. When her father found out what Fry had done, he said, “He didn’t understand everything…but he understood that Holly stole his money.”

Massey said the case affected her, too. She said she was repeatedly harassed by Frey’s contractors who sent her on her way when Frey owed them money; She spent $40,000 of her own savings to feed her parents and provide health care for them, and has traveled to Utah from her California home 12 to 14 times for court proceedings.

For her, the issue is very simple: “When you take something that doesn’t belong to you, it’s stealing.”

Frye was restrained when Bean delivered the verdict. He refused her lawyer’s request to give her 14 days to turn herself in, stating that she should have known by coming to court on Wednesday that she would face imprisonment.

He also said that while he is sure that both sides do not agree with the punishment, he feels that he cannot impose more than 60 days of hard times without fully understanding the seriousness of the crime.

After the verdict was pronounced, Massey said it’s hard to know how she’s feeling. With her parents and siblings gone and with Frey now in prison, she is the only person left to manage the property, she said.

She added that she never wanted a family member to go to jail, and even defended Frey before she saw the bank statements for herself.

She added that prison is what her father and siblings want.

Massey said she forgives Frye and feels bad for her, “but the laws were broken.”

Now, Massey wants to focus on preserving her parents’ legacy of service by working with the hungry, the homeless, and the underprivileged.

She hopes people will remember that what happened to her could happen to anyone.

“It’s really all about greed and taking advantage of two vulnerable adults,” she said.

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