Former funeral home director sentenced to probation, restitution

Sheffield given 10 years probation
Paul A. Romer
January 31, 2008
BELTON – Wade Sheffield was sentenced to 10 years probation Wednesday, avoiding jail time after he pleaded guilty in 264th District Court to mismanaging the trust fund a woman had willed to charity.

The judgment allows the 71-year-old Sheffield to continue working and pay restitution to the Heart Research Department at Scott & White Memorial Hospital and the Heart of Texas Branch of the Arthritis Foundation. As the executor of Vida C. Miller’s will, Sheffield was responsible after her death in November 1998 to disperse her assets to the two charities.

Instead, Sheffield, who has no prior criminal history, used the fund as a bank from which he loaned money to businesses that eventually failed and were unable to pay the trust back, prosecutor Nelson Barnes said.

“He just basically tried to keep a bad business afloat,” Barnes said. “He mismanaged (the trust) so much that it made it criminal.”

Sheffield made loans to his own former business, Heritage Funeral Home in Harker Heights, and to a corporation owned by his former son-in-law, Jay Tankersley. Both businesses failed and were unable to repay the loans, Barnes said.

“We didn’t find any evidence of trips to Mexico or anything that dramatic,” Barnes said.

Mrs. Miller’s trust was valued at $431,953, according to Bell County records.

The plea agreement calls for Sheffield to pay $389,820 in restitution, half to Scott & White and half to the Arthritis Foundation.

Barnes said the restitution amount was lower than what Mrs. Miller’s trust was valued at because Sheffield used some of the money for legitimate purposes, such as attorney fees or fees associated with selling a house.

The ruling calls for Sheffield to pay each organization at least $500 a month.

Barnes said the mismanagement was uncovered by representatives of Scott & White who inquired about the hospital’s share of the trust.