Public Safety

Dubuque couple each sentenced to 2 years for stealing thousands from elderly mother

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Dubuque couple who stole more $200,000 from the husband’s elderly mother each were sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison.

H. David Derby, 66, and Patti Lynn Derby, 52, pleaded guilty last September to one count of wire fraud. In their plea agreements and during sentencings, the evidence showed the couple stole from H. David Derby’s mother between September 2013 and September 2017.

The elderly widow and former schoolteacher, who lived in an assisted living facility in Dubuque, had mental and physical disabilities and was unable to manage her financial matters or care for herself, according to court documents.

Evidence showed the couple used various legal forms, including two powers of attorney, to gain access to her bank account. The Derbys transferred money out of the account on the pretense that they would use the funds for her benefit, but those funds were used for the couple’s own purposes, including tickets to a rock concert.

By Oct. 1, 2017, the Derbys had spent all the stolen funds, and the mother no longer could afford her assisted living facility and was forced to move into the Derbys’ home, according to court documents. Over the next three months, the mother lost more than 23 pounds, broke her wrist and was hospitalized. She later died in March.

“The Derbys’ treatment of the victim in this case is appalling,” U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan said in a statement. “They took advantage of an elderly woman with mental and physical disabilities for their own selfish personal gain. The United States Attorney’s Office will hold accountable those who abuse positions of trust to steal from the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Deegan urged others to take care and attend to family and friends in an effort to prevent the elderly from becoming fraud victims.


U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams sentenced H. David Derby to 26 months and Patti Derby to 24 months.

They also were ordered to pay $211,621 in restitution. Each will serve three years of supervised release following their prison terms.

This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Abuse Initiative. In March 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa was selected as one of 10 districts nationwide to launch regional Elder Justice Task Forces. The Elder Justice Initiative coordinates and supports the department’s law enforcement efforts and policy activities on elder justice issues. It plays an integral role in the department’s investigative and enforcement efforts against nursing homes and other long-term care entities that deliver grossly substandard care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Cedar Rapids and Sioux City offices of the district have rededicated efforts and resources to investigate and hold accountable those who have been involved in illegal activities that target and harm vulnerable citizens.

The Derbys were released on bonds previously set pending their surrender to the Bureau of Prisons.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Dubuque Police Department and the FBI.

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