A Portage woman who pleaded guilty to stealing $250,000 in life insurance money after her son died in Iraq was scheduled to eight years of probation.
Janie Lee Espinoza admitted taking her son’s life insurance money, which was meant to be disbursed to her granddaughter Alicia when she turns 18. The money was left after her son, Army Reserve Spc. Roy Buckley, was died in Iraq in 2003.
The 58-year-old Espinoza spent the money on cars, jewelry, a Florida timeshare and a baby grand piano. She must repay the money at a minimum of $150 a month.
The probation department recommended to the court that Espinoza should not be incarcerated because it deemed that she was not a danger to the community. Espinoza had asked the court for mercy, saying she regrets her actions.
Espinoza’s lawyer was relieved by the sentence and praised Porter Superior Court Judge William Alexa’s verdict.
“For the judge to have the strength (despite the publicity) to follow the probation officer’s recommendations, is commendable,” said Garry Weiss.
Weiss said Espinoza suffered depression following her son’s death and used the insurance money to medicate her pain. He said she has returned several of the purchased items, including a van, a Florida time share and an estimated $10,000 in jewelry.
Deputy prosecutor Mike Drenth had sought incarceration for the Portage woman.
“What she did with the money is outrageous,” Drenth said.
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