The recitation of criminal counts against Betsey Cammon seemed to rain down on the Anderson Island woman like hammer blows Thursday.
There were 24 first-degree theft charges in all, and Cammon sank a little lower in her chair as each one was read out by Judge Elizabeth Martin in Pierce County Superior Court.
When Martin finished, she asked Cammon, who was accused of stealing more than $400,000 from her elderly uncle over a number of years, how she wished to plead.
Red-faced and grim, the 55-year-old woman took a breath before saying, "Guilty."
Martin, on the advice of deputy prosecutor Erika Nohavec and defense attorney Jack McNeish, then sentenced Cammon to four years, two months in prison, which was at the middle of the standard range.
It was the culmination of what Martin called "a breach of the most fundamental trust."
"This is an incredibly sad day," the judge said.
The seeds were planted in 1998 when Cammon was granted power of attorney for her uncle, Bob Cammon, court records show. Nine years later, she was granted access to his bank accounts and in 2009 gained fulled access when her uncle was placed into a nursing home because of dementia, the records show.
Cammon was supposed to use the money to pay his bills, but she instead bled him dry, prosecutors contend.
When relatives finally discovered the theft, Bob Cammon was more than $50,000 in arrears and they were forced to cash in other investments to cover the losses, prosecutors said. He since has died.
His niece later said someone was extorting her for the money, a contention she maintained Thursday as part of her plea. She never said who it was.
Cammon declined to speak on her own behalf Thursday, and a handful of relatives their to observe the proceeding also held their peace.
But relatives did submit a victim impact statement to the court.
Betsey Cammon betrayed not only her uncle and his wife, Kitty, but the whole Cammon family, a proud clan that has called Anderson Island home for decades, the statement said.
Bob and Kitty Cammon had intended for their estate to be shared with more than 30 relatives who had been part of their lives, the family wrote.
"Betsey took it all," the statement said. "It is painful to all of us to see the abuse that Betsey has engendered on Bob and Kitty. It is equally painful to know the damage she has caused to the honorable Cammon name."