Their older sister had presented a letter of guardianship for Nathaniel Graham Sr. and instructed the staff at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center that no one else was allowed to see him and that she would make all decisions about his medical care, which included transferring him to an Atlanta hospital against medical advice.
On Wednesday, a Richmond County Superior Court jury convicted Alethea Graham of forgery. She was sentenced to five years in prison followed by four years’ probation.
The judge’s name on the guardianship papers was forged, said Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine, who took the relatively rare step of taking a forgery case to trial. Such cases typically end in guilty pleas and probation for first-time offenders or a dismissal.
Alethea Graham, 41, pleaded with Judge Sheryl B. Jolly to give her a probation sentence, and she insisted she had done nothing wrong. The only blemish on her record was a speeding ticket, she said.
Nathaniel Graham Jr. testified this week that he was the emergency contact person for his father because he was the only sibling living in Augusta. On March 31, 2009, he got a call: His father had fallen and might have suffered a brain injury. He called his sisters, Graham testified.
About two weeks later, he and his younger sister were told they couldn’t see their father. They were shown the guardianship letter, which both questioned. But they couldn’t do anything to stop their older sister’s actions. After their father was taken to the Atlanta hospital, his condition worsened, Nathaniel Graham Jr. testified. He was eventually able to gain guardianship and brought his father back to Augusta, but he never recovered. Nathaniel Graham Sr. died Oct. 4, 2009, at age 58 at the downtown Augusta VA hospital.