PASO ROBLES — Paso Robles resident Diana L. Russell was sentenced Monday, Feb. 4, to five years in prison for embezzling nearly $500,000 from an elderly couple, Sandra and Ole Viborg who also live in Paso Robles, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.
According to court documents, Russell, 43, stole from the Viborgs between July 2015 and June 2018 while she was employed as an assistant and bookkeeper. Because the Viborgs were both over the age of 65 at the time, Russell was charged with embezzlement from an elder. Ole Viborg passed away Sept. 22, 2015. Sandra Viborg, who was present at Russell’s sentencing, is 80.
“The breach of trust that occurs in cases like this is far-reaching and profound,” said San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow. “It is particularly devasting for elder victims who are vulnerable and rely on someone like Russell to help them manage their affairs.”
At the sentencing hearing Debbie Viborg, Sandra and Ole’s daughter-in-law, described Russell as someone who had been “treated like family, attended family functions and was trusted like family,” and that her “betrayal has permeated our lives.”
She noted that, at the time of Ole’s death, Russell was present and grieving with the family as they made funeral arrangements, yet two days later bought an expensive diamond ring using money she stole from the Viborgs.
At the sentencing hearing, Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen stated that this case was not only about the money taken, but “the sense of betrayal” experienced by the Viborgs. A hearing was scheduled for May 6, 2019, to determine the precise amount of restitution.
The case was investigated by the Paso Robles Police Department and was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Michael Frye of the Public Integrity Unit.