Following a nearly two-month-long trial, a jury convicted a 53-year-old Cloverdale man Friday on nine felony counts in a case of elder abuse that swindled a Sonoma County couple out of their fortune.
Theodore Smith Hudson III faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison stemming from a 2016 Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office investigation and subsequent charges filed by the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
Hudson was a landscaper hired in 2009 by the victim, now 93, and her husband, and later became the couple’s caregiver and siphoned off approximately $1.5 million from bank accounts over several years without their authorization, prosecutors said. In addition to the theft, the victim also discovered Hudson transferred the deeds to several commercial properties to himself, collecting $90,000 a month in rental income, prosecutors said.
In a civil case last year against Hudson, jurors awarded nearly $20 million in damages to the woman, Gudrun Block-Sabanovich. She who claimed Hudson manipulated her into giving him control of her bank accounts and signing over a real estate nest egg, in part by threatening to abandon her.
Among the affected holdings were 10 commercial investment properties in California, Nebraska and Texas worth an estimated $18 million, according to Lewis Warren, Block-Sabanovich’s attorney in the civil case. Hudson used the $1.5 million in swindled cash to buy his 4,000-square-foot luxury home in Cloverdale, Warren said last year after the five-week civil trial.
Nicholas Sabanovich, a retired Standford professor, died in 2015. The couple amassed a sizable real estate portfolio after moving from Palo Alto to Sonoma County about three decades ago. They settled in Wikiup and had no surviving children.
“This defendant gained the trust of the victim and her now deceased husband over several years,” District Attorney Jill Ravitch said in a statement. “While they were in an incredibly vulnerable position, he took advantage of them. Unfortunately, this type of elder abuse is not uncommon.”
After the guilty verdict, Hudson was taken into custody. His sentencing is set for June 14.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or at email@example.com.