By Fred Shuster

City News Service

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A woman with a 40-year criminal history was sentenced to 58 months behind bars for using checks stolen from a West Hills nursing home resident to purchase hundreds of dollars in merchandise — a crime she committed while on supervised released in another federal fraud case.

Carol Ejdowski, 66, was sentenced on Monday, Nov. 9, in Los Angeles by U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee, who imposed a 37-month term for the current bank fraud case and a consecutive 21-month sentence because the offense was committed while Ejdowski was on supervised release.

“Her victim was a 70-year-old, half-paralyzed stroke victim in a rehab center,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranee Katzenstein told the court.

When she defrauded the female victim, Ejdowski was serving a three-year period of supervised released after pleading guilty to passport fraud related to a credit card scam. She served a 63-month federal prison term in that case and was released in late 2012.

In sentencing Ejdowski, Gee said “the facts of this case are particularly despicable” and pointed out the defendant’s multiple prior convictions for insurance fraud, grand theft and burglary.

Gee called Ejdowski “a recidivist of the highest order” who had “shown her disrespect for the law repeatedly” and “breached the court’s trust.”

Ejdowski, in pleading guilty in September 2014 to one count of bank fraud, admitted that she stole checks from the victim that she used to purchase merchandise at Costco and Walmart.

She was originally scheduled to be sentenced on April 29, but failed to appear for that hearing and was a fugitive until she was arrested and incarcerated four months later.

While Ejdowski admitted that she used stolen checks, prosecutors argued that she also used the victim’s credit cards in a scheme that caused nearly $2,000 in losses.

“Standing alone, the monetary loss in this case did not adequately reflect the gravity of defendant’s crime, but today’s significant sentence should send a message to all those who would seek to victimize the vulnerable,” said Eileen M. Decker, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

Katzenstein wrote in a sentencing memo that Ejdowski’s “criminal conduct was particularly deplorable” and told the court that “now the focus has to be on protecting the public.”

In arguing unsuccessfully for a 42-month sentence, defense attorney Stephanie E. Thornton-Harris said her client has “mental health problems”  that cause her to make “bad choices.”

For her part, Ejdowski apologized to the court, telling the judge that she is “really not a horrible bad person.”

But Gee said the defendant’s long criminal history “makes it very difficult for the court to believe anything Ms. Ejdowski says.”