Casey and Sandy Parsons sentenced to combined 18 years in prison

Casey and Sandy Parsons sentenced to combined 18 years in prison

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The adoptive parents of missing Rowan County teenager Erica Parsons are being held at the Forsyth County Jail after they were sentenced in federal court to a combined total of 18 years in prison Friday.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it will be at least a couple of days before Casey and Sandy Parsons find out which federal prison each will serve the time.

Sandy Wade Parsons, 41, and Casey Stone Parsons, 40, were sentenced by United States District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder in Winston-Salem.

Sandy Parsons was sentenced to 96 months in prison; 3 years supervised release; $14,062.00 in restitution; and a special assessment of $4,300.00.

Casey Parsons was sentenced to 120 months in prison; 3 years supervised release; $41,814.00 in restitution; and a special assessment of $1,500.00.

They were taken into custody immediately.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons told WBTV they don't know yet what type of federal prison - maximum, medium, or minimum security - Casey and Sandy Parsons will serve time. He said it will be based on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the crime, prior convictions.

The Parsons were convicted of defrauding the government by continuing to accept federal adoption assistance money long after Erica Parsons was gone from the family home.

The judge said Friday that he would accept almost all of the testimony about Erica Parsons' alleged abuse, stating the testimony from family members was credible. The judge went on to say the story of Erica Parsons being given to a grandmother was "a poorly concocted, deliberate falsehood."

Judge Schroeder lectured both Casey and Sandy as each heard their sentence. He said that he believed they had abused Erica in such an extreme manner that when something happened to her in 2011, they refused to get medical help because the abuse would be evident.

Schroeder described Erica Parsons as a "defenseless little girl who only wanted to be loved," but instead was the victim of "extreme" abuse. He said that he believed the earlier testimony that Erica was forced to live in a closet, that she was constantly in fear of soiling herself, and that if she did, she was punished. Schroeder said he believed that Erica died in 2011. He said he believed that on that night she was first punished for complaining that she felt bad, then died and was taken and abandoned by Casey and Sandy in what the judge called a "horrible, horrible act committed in the dark of night."

"I have sentenced thousands of people over the years," Judge Schroeder told the couple, "But no case I've ever had is as disturbing as this one."

The judge called Casey Parsons "morally bankrupt" and said she had a "depraved mind." He also described Sandy Parsons as having a "twisted mind" before handing down their sentences.

Schroeder also said the he believed testimony from FBI agents that there is no record of Erica's existence since 2011.

Sandy and Casey walked into the federal courthouse at 7:24 a.m., more than two hours before the start of the hearing. The couple and their daughter, Brooklyn, had no comment as they dodged rain and reporters to get to the front door.

Casey Parsons' sister, Robin Ashley, told WBTV "I wish she would have got more but I think it's more than I thought she would get so I'm happy."

Ashley said "in a way I feel this is justice for Erica. If they're not going to be charged with murder which I think they should, I feel it's justice for Erica in a way. I mean not complete justice. I think she deserves more."

Ashley said she didn't attend the sentencing because "I couldn't be there with them. It just physically makes me sick to be in the same room with them" but she was glad the judge sent her sister and brother-in-law to prison right away.

"I know it's my sister but what she's done to Erica - Erica was a little girl," Ashley said. "She didn't deserve that... I feel absolutely nothing."

Sandy Parsons was found guilty of 43 federal fraud charges after a trial in October 2014. The charges included one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of false statement to a government agency, 20 counts of theft of government funds, and 20 counts of mail fraud.

Casey Parsons pleaded guilty on October 1, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, five counts of mail fraud, five counts of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return, four counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity the trial.

After sentencing on Friday, the attorneys for Casey and Sandy both asked that their clients be allowed to report to prison at a later date, but the judge denied the request, saying he could not be convinced that they would not to be a danger to other people, so they were taken immediately to a local jail and will be transported to a federal prison.

In February, the couple was in court for the original sentencing hearing. That hearing produced shocking testimony from prosecution witnesses about the life led by Erica Parsons when she was with Casey and Sandy.

On Friday Judge Schroeder said that he found the testimony of all of the government's witnesses to be credible and truthful, and he said the "nature of the offenses is sinister."

The government's first witness was Amy Miller, who said she hired Casey to be a surrogate mother and deliver her baby. Casey claimed she miscarried the child. She later successfully delivered the baby and tried to sell the child to her sister, Robin Ashley, for $10,000.

Ashley took the stand during the hearing, saying that Casey beat Erica and often made her stand in the corner. Pictures were shown of Erica standing in that corner on five different occasions.

Ashley said she saw bruises and marks on Erica. Casey gave Erica to Ashley to look after for a few months so that she "wouldn't kill her," Ashley said. She added that Casey "couldn't stand the sight of [Erica's] face." Ashley said her sister told her she had lost control and assaulted Erica.

When Erica first started living with her adoptive parents, she called them "mom" and "dad." Casey didn't like that and decided she should call them by their names, Casey and Sandy, Ashley said. Casey told Erica to never call her "mom" again.

Erica Parsons was reported missing in late July of 2013 by her adoptive brother. She had not been seen for more than a year before the report was filed.

That brother, Jamie Parsons, took the stand in February and testified that nearly everyone in the family had abused Erica routinely.

He admitted that he, Casey, Sandy and his sister, Brooke, had all abused her.

According to his testimony, Casey would often break Erica's fingers by bending them backwards. She would then make her own casts for Erica's fingers and would not take her for medical assistance.

Jamie testified that Sandy would often get mad and punch Erica with his fist in the back and the top of her head.

Erica was forced to live in a closet with the clothes, Jamie testified, and was often locked in the closet for hours at a time. There was no bed in the closet and she was forced to sleep on the floor.

She was not given access to a bathroom, Jamie Parsons said in court, and when Casey found out that Erica had relieved herself in the closet, she would be beaten, he said.

He also said food was often withheld from Erica, and that she was forced to eat dog food out of a can.

The night in November 2011 that Jamie last saw Erica, he says she was standing in the corner being punished.

"She looked like a zombie," he said in court. He said her face was pale white and she told him that she "didn't feel good, couldn't breathe too good."

When Erica told Casey that she didn't feel well, she reportedly told Erica to "shut the [expletive] up" and Jamie went to bed, he testified.

The next morning, he says Casey and Sandy weren't home when he woke up. They didn't return until later in the day and when they did, Jamie said, Sandy looked sick, "like he was about to throw up," and didn't talk. Casey looked normal, he said.

Jamie says when he asked Casey where Erica was, she told him they took her to her grandmother's house.

Casey and Sandy continue to say they delivered Erica to a grandmother named "Nan" who lived in the Asheville area. Local law enforcement and the FBI have repeatedly said that "Nan" does not exist.

Despite an extensive investigation by the Rowan Sheriff's Office, the SBI and the FBI, no trace of Erica Parsons, dead or alive, has ever been found. Investigators have collected evidence from the Parsons former home on Miller Chapel Road, as well as property owned by other family members.

In court in February, FBI Special Agent Tara Cataldo said there has been no trace of Erica Parsons that has been found. Cataldo said that the investigation was given such a high priority that other investigations, including some involving national security, were interfered with by the Parsons investigation.

Asked if there had been any "viable information" on the whereabouts of Erica Parsons, Cataldo replied "no." The agent said that several leads were followed, but that nothing was found.

Cataldo also that sections of a closet in the Miller Chapel Road home of the Parsons were removed from the house and examined. Blood and DNA from Erica Parsons urine and/or blood were found in the carpet and on the baseboard of the section recovered.

Cataldo also testified that no public records of the existence of Erica Parsons have been seen since 2011.

On Friday after the sentencing was completed, Casey Parsons' mother, Shirley Stone, said she did not think that the testimony about Erica should have been allowed to play a role in the sentencing.

"I don't think he should have done anything about the sentencing with Erica, until there was some kind of proof that something happened to Erica besides Jamie," Stone said.

"The investigation and prosecution of this case has been a shining example of effective inter-agency cooperation," said United States Attorney Rand. "We would like to thank our partners in the FBI, IRS, Social Security, North Carolina SBI, and Rowan County Sheriff's Department for their work in making sure that Casey and Sandy Parsons were held accountable for the fraud they committed in connection with the disappearance of Erica Parsons."

Casey Parsons and Sandy Parsons' cases were investigated by the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the Social Security Administration, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anand Ramaswamy.

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