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7:35 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Thief ordered to pay $79,000 in restitution

Hickman, now serving time, defrauded elderly couple after becoming trustee

Kimberly Hickman

Kimberly Hickman

KINGMAN - A local woman found guilty last fall of defrauding an elderly couple has been ordered to repay $79,000 in restitution.

That's on top of a $1.2 million civil judgment against 51-year-old Kimberly Hickman, who is serving out a four-year prison sentence after being convicted by a jury last September.

The restitution judgment was entered by Judge Steven Conn on behalf of the family of Andrew and Opal Morabeto. Hickman had served as the couple's caregiver after meeting them in June 2005. A month and a half later, she became the trustee of their estate.

Hickman was charged with theft of more than $25,000, even though Prosecutor Jace Zack said the amount stolen totaled much more than that.

Zack said he could only file a criminal complaint for the money taken following the death of Andrew Morabeto.

Andrew's death negated his signature on a letter authorizing Hickman to write checks for the Morabetos and Hickman at her discretion.

Opal's signature was not valid since she did not have the legal ability to enter into such an agreement because she was suffering from Alzheimer's.

During trial, Zack presented evidence that pointed to misuse and abuse of the Morabeto's money at the hands of Hickman, including using their money to pay off the mortgage on her home on Potter Avenue.

After Hickman's conviction, her family was served notice to vacate the property, and a constructive trust was put on the home in the Morabeto family's name.

Zack said that after Andrew's death, Hickman had moved Opal out of her home and sent her to live with a friend. Hickman then reportedly moved her daughter into Opal's home.

Hickman also used the Morabeto's money to make a $20,000 donation to her church, First Assembly of God.

Pastor Dan Briles said he and Opal's family worked out an arrangement to cover her expenses and that more than $10,000 of Hickman's original donation has been repaid.

It is not clear how much of the civil judgment, which was awarded by Judge Randolph Bartlett in civil proceedings, has been paid.