Caregiver gets 10 years in prison for stealing artwork from elderly artist

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — A woman hired to care for an 85-year-old artist has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after stealing thousands of dollars of her artwork.

Delores Toscano was a well-known artist in the Denver area who specialized in original southwestern art.

Her collection included original paintings, hundreds of prints, sculpture and antique turquoise jewelry. It is believed to have been valued at more than $100,000, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said.

Shawn Ellen West, 52, was hired to care for Toscano at her Wheat Ridge home. Investigators say West began selling Toscano’s artwork online — using a computer in Toscano’s home.

In August, Toscano’s son, Jim Toscano, contacted Wheat Ridge police about the possible theft of his mother’s artwork.

West was arrested after detectives arranged an undercover buy of a piece of the stolen artwork.

West pleaded guilty to the lead charge, theft from at at-risk adult. She has seven previous felony convictions, the district attorney’s office said.

“Our elder abuse unit specializes in cases like these, involving our most vulnerable victims,” District Attorney Pete Weir said in a statement released Tuesday.

“This is one of the most disheartening examples of the violation of trust that we see. Mrs. Toscano is extremely vulnerable and was completely dependent upon Shawn West, who stole and sold her precious artwork.”

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