An Awful Story out of North County

Man’s 14-year, four-month sentence is one of the longest elder abuse terms imposed in a state case, according to prosecutors

Key in Jail Cell Door
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A man who worked as a caretaker for the elderly in North County was sentenced Thursday to more than 14 years in prison for sexually assaulting three senior citizens and stealing property from other victims.

Brandon Benavente, 26, pleaded guilty to 11 felonies related to sexual assault, financial and elder abuse and theft, while Benavente's girlfriend and co-defendant Odaliz Mendez, 27, pleaded guilty to "multiple felonies relating to her involvement in the theft scheme," according to the Attorney General's Office.

Prosecutors said that between December 2019 and December 2020, Benavente committed "multiple acts of burglary, theft, fraud, identity theft and sexual abuse" against a resident at Vista Village Senior Living, as well as "other victims throughout San Diego County."

Benavente and Mendez took "jewelry, a handgun and thousands of dollars from their victims," according to the Attorney General's Office, which said the investigation was prompted in May 2020 when Benavente was caught on camera entering a resident's room and taking cash from the resident's wallet.

According to the AG's Office, Benavente's 14-year, four-month sentence is one of the longest elder abuse sentences imposed in a case brought by the California Department of Justice.

Mendez was sentenced last month to credit for time served and two years of felony probation.

"My office will not stand for abuse of the elderly by their caretakers," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. "The crimes that took place under the care of Brandon Benavente are unacceptable. No caretaker should expect to get away with sexually, physically, or financially abusing any senior citizen in our state."

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