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Friedlund gets 10 years for retirement scam

John “Herb” Friedlund and his dog, Tara, sit at his home near Eloika Lake on April 24, 2012. Friedlund was charged with stealing nearly $1 million from the retirement account of an elderly Kettle Falls woman. (Dan Pelle)
John “Herb” Friedlund and his dog, Tara, sit at his home near Eloika Lake on April 24, 2012. Friedlund was charged with stealing nearly $1 million from the retirement account of an elderly Kettle Falls woman. (Dan Pelle)

The Kettle Falls man convicted of stealing nearly $1 million from the 105-year-old woman in his care was sentenced today to the maximum 10 years that he could have received.

A jury on Thursday convicted John “Herb” Friedlund, 79, of first-degree theft with two aggravating factors.

However, the jury deadlocked on the charge of criminal mistreatment against Frances Swan, who is now 107. She was found in 2011 begging for food in a house filled with guns and dog feces.

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said Friedlund stood before Superior Court Judge Al Nielson and spoke for more than 30 minutes.

“He blamed the family. He said they were thieves. He said he never did anything wrong and that it was a miscarriage of justice,” Rasmussen said.

The judge disagreed, cutting off Friedlund’s rambling speech and saying Friedlund was the one who was wrong. Nielson told Friedlund that he had both a moral and legal obligation to care for Swan and that he failed on both counts, Deputy Stevens County Prosecutor Lech Radzimski said.

Judge Nielson told Friedlund that his “decisions were driven by greed,” Radzimski said.

The judge then sentenced Friedlund to 10 years, which was the maximum sentence available for the theft conviction.

Friedlund “is now on his way to Spokane, where he will either be sent to prison or held until he stands trial for his federal charges,” Rasmussen said.

In addition to the state case, Friedlund faces 11 counts of money laundering and five counts of failing to pay income taxes in federal court for the money he raided from Swan’s retirement account.

Court records show that he bought hundreds of guns, vehicles and other items with the money, which also largely went to young men he met on gay websites.

“It was one of the worst cases of elder abuse around,” Rasmussen said.



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