North St. Paul woman sentenced for swindling mom

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2011 - 9:15 PM

North St. Paul woman who took more than $200,000 is guilty of financial exploitation of an ailing adult.

Marsha Aspelund Truskolaski tearfully apologized Wednesday as she was sentenced for swindling more than $200,000 from her ailing 77-year-old mother.

"I'm very, very sorry," she told Ramsey County District Judge Joanne Smith. "I know what I did was wrong. I can't say that enough.

"Everything I did was for her," she said. "I was always there for her."

Smith abided by an agreement reached Oct. 10 when Truskolaski, 44, of North St. Paul, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult in excess of $2,500.

Truskolaski was given a stay of imposition sentence, meaning that if she successfully completes 10 years of probation, the charges will be reduced to misdemeanors. She was ordered to serve 45 days in the workhouse, on work release or home confinement. She also was ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution and possibly more.

Smith also lifted an order that had prohibited Truskolaski and her children from seeing her mother.

Truskolaski was accused of abusing her power of attorney over her mother's financial affairs between 2004 and 2008 to pay for vacations, jewelry, car loans, private school tuition for her children and expensive home improvements, including an in-ground swimming pool. Her mother was left virtually destitute and now gets government assistance.

Before handing down the sentence, the judge told Truskolaski: "While I'm sure you did many wonderful things for your mother ... I think you took advantage of her in a way that far exceeds the monetary loss, as far as I'm concerned. I do hope that you can make some peace with your mother while she's still alive."

Smith told family members seated on both sides of the courtroom that she hopes they can find some reconciliation.

"I think you all need to think about the next generation," she said. "Your children, they are cousins. These fractured relationships can go on for generations."

Earlier in the hearing, Truskolaski's brother, Matt Aspelund, told the judge that his sister "has destroyed the family." He said the plea agreement was made without the involvement of family members and called it "an injustice."

Prosecutor John Ristad told the judge that family members were told about the plea agreement and that it reflected the victim's wishes. He said the statute of limitations precluded charging Truskolaski with anything prior to July 2006.

Outside the courtroom, Truskolaski was asked whether she was looking forward to seeing her mother.

"Very much so," she said. "I can't wait. I know she'll be very excited to see her grandchildren, as well."

Defense attorney Ryan Pacyga said he and his client were "pleased with the outcome." He said the sentence showed a "classy prosecutor and a wise judge."

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992

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