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Senior swindler appeal denied

Robert Henning faces 10-year prison sentence
By: Penne Usher, Journal correspondent
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An Auburn man convicted of financial elder abuse for stealing from several local seniors lost an appeal this week to have the judgment overturned. He faces 10 years in prison. Robert Henning, 58, was convicted of five counts of financial elder abuse and five counts of grand theft by false pretense in Placer County Superior Court following his August 2007 arrest. Henning bilked at least five elderly victims, who came to him to purchase products to assist their physical mobility, out of thousands of dollars. Grace Raigosa, in her 70s, was one of the victims. She said Friday that she contacted National Medical Services, at the time located on Shale Ridge Lane in North Auburn, to purchase a chair lift for her car. Henning requested $800 in cash up front for the lift. “I trusted him,” she said. Three months went by without a word. When Raigosa called to ask what had happened to her lift, Henning made multiple excuses. “He told me there was a storm in Florida, the truck driver was in an accident and the lift had to be re-made,” she said. Eventually she learned that Henning had been arrested. “I never got a penny back and no lift,” Raigosa said. “I had to borrow the $800 and that’s a small fortune to me.” According to documents filed April 29 with the Third Appellate District Court of Appeals, Henning contends the trial court (in Placer County) erred in the admission of evidence and made instructional errors and that “insufficient evidence support his 10 convictions.” The court disagreed, and instead affirmed the conviction and imposed a total prison sentence of 10 years and eight months for Henning’s crimes. Helen Bale, former Auburn Journal editor and long-time columnist who died earlier this year, was one of Henning’s victims. Exposing Henning’s illegal activities targeting seniors was one of Bale’s last major journalistic efforts. Bale paid $1,395 for a scooter that she never received. According to court records Henning made multiple excuses to Bale as to why her scooter wasn’t available. She became fed up and eventually called law enforcement authorities. Bale wrote “Glory Hallelujah, praise the Lord!” in her column Dec. 16, 2007 “Through Irish Eyes” after learning of Henning’s conviction. Ten years behind bars is insufficient time for Henning’s crimes, Raigosa said. “The sentence isn’t enough,” she said. “He cheated and stole. “He’ll get out and he’ll go right back to it.”