After three years of surgery and growing debt, an Augusta man thought a large workers’ compensation check finally meant independence and security. His girlfriend had other ideas.
While Charles Boyette napped before dinner the night of Oct. 5, Terry Gish sneaked out with $71,000 and stole his pickup, Assistant District Attorney Falin Syms said.
Gish, 52, was to stand trial in Richmond County Superior Court this week, but on Monday she pleaded guilty to theft.
“She stole his future and his independence,” Syms said of Gish.
A tearful Gish expressed remorse but hadn’t repaid Boyette in the months since she walked out with the money and was later released on bond after her arrest, Syms said.
Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. sentenced Gish to serve five years in prison, followed by 25 years on probation. Restitution is a condition of probation.
According to court documents, the defense tried unsuccessfully to keep text messages on Gish’s cellphone from becoming evidence against her. On the phone, which was left in Boyette’s abandoned truck in Bulloch County, were texts from Gish to “Robert” about having thousands in cash and a willingness to share, Syms said.
Twenty-five days after the theft, she called Boyette to say the money was gone and she needed a ride home from Atlanta.
Syms said Boyette, who had been steadily employed as a tree cutter until a 2009 work injury, didn’t have a bank account when the workers’ compensation settlement check came in. He cashed it because he had debts to repay, the first to his mother, Syms said.
Gish, who dated Boyette for about 18 months, stole the money before he could pay off any of his debts or buy a plot of land where he intended to live, the prosecutor said.