BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - A woman was in court Monday morning for allegedly embezzling thousands from an elderly Camp Fire victim changed her not-guilty plea and pleaded no contest, according to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.
Brenda Rose Asbury, 31, had been raised by the 75-year-old victim since she was 11. The victim had recently received insurance payments equaling more than $127,000 after losing her home in the Camp Fire.
At today’s hearing, Asbury specified that she stole a total of $63,100 which will be given back to the victim following her sentencing on October 7, 2021.
The victim had relocated following the loss of her home. She had invited Asbury to stay with her to help Asbury escape a bad relationship in Oklahoma. She also paid for the defendant's travel costs to make it to California for the person she called her "daughter."
When the victim began receiving her payments, placing them into separate accounts she made for the settlements, her husband had to be placed in a care home due to poor health.
In May of 2019, Asbury convinced the victim to put her name on the account to protect the money from the state attempting to grab money for her husband’s care.
Ramsey said at no point was Asbury given permission to use any money in the account. Soon after she was added to the account, Asbury made a new, separate and secret account and transferred $63,100 into the said account.
Asbury secretly moved out one night, disconnected her cell phone and cut off all ties with the woman she called “mom” to head back to Oklahoma, Ramsey said.
Butte County Sheriff’s Officers used search warrants, cell phone locating pings and local interviews to locate Asbury in Oklahoma.
She then turned herself into local sheriff’s in November of 2019 and was booked into the Butte County Jail for three weeks before being released pending today’s trial.
Asbury will face up to four years in county jail for embezzlement of an elder.