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Press Release

Dubuque Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison after Stealing Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars from Man’s Elderly Mother

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Used Powers of Attorney to Steal Over $200,000 for Concert Tickets and Other Uses

A married Dubuque couple who stole over $200,000 from the husband’s elderly mother were each sentenced today to two years in federal prison.  H. David Derby, age 66, and Patti Lynn Derby, age 52, received the prison terms after each pled guilty on September 23, 2019 to one count of wire fraud.

In their plea agreements and at their sentencing hearings, the evidence showed that the Derbys stole over $200,000 from H. David Derby’s mother between September 2013 and September 2017.  The victim was an elderly widow and former school teacher who resided in an assisted living facility in Dubuque.  She suffered from mental and physical disabilities and was unable to manage her own financial affairs or care for herself.

The Derbys used various legal forms, including two powers of attorneys, to gain access to the victim’s bank account and carry out their fraud scheme.  After transferring money out of the victim’s account on the false pretense that the Derbys would use the funds for her benefit, the Derbys used those funds for their own purposes, including tickets to a rock concert.  By October 1, 2017, the Derbys had spent all of the victim’s funds and she was no longer able to afford her assisted living facility and was forced to move into the Derbys’ home.  Over the next three months, the victim lost over 23 pounds, broke her wrist, and was hospitalized.  The victim later died in March 2020.

“The Derbys’ treatment of the victim in this case is appalling,” said United States Attorney Peter Deegan.  “They took advantage of an elderly woman with mental and physical disabilities for their own selfish personal gain.  The United States Attorney’s Office will hold accountable those who abuse positions of trust to steal from the most vulnerable members of our community.  But I urge everyone to do their part by carefully attending to family and friends to prevent the elderly from becoming victims of fraud.”

The Derbys were sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  H. David Derby was sentenced to 26 months’ imprisonment.  Patti Derby was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment.  They were ordered to make over $211,621.41 in restitution.  Each must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

The prosecution of the Derbys is part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Abuse Initiative.  In March 2016, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa was selected as one of ten districts nationwide to launch regional Elder Justice Task Forces.  The Elder Justice Task Forces reflect the department’s larger strategy and commitment to protecting our nation’s seniors, spearheaded by the department’s Elder Justice Initiative.  The Elder Justice Initiative coordinates and supports the Department’s law enforcement efforts and policy activities on elder justice issues.  It plays an integral role in the department’s investigative and enforcement efforts against nursing homes and other long-term care entities that deliver grossly substandard care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa has rededicated its efforts and resources to investigate and hold accountable those who have been involved in activities incompatible with ensuring that the state’s more vulnerable citizens are treated with dignity and respect.

The charges also were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information on the task force, please visit

The Derbys were released on the bond previously set.  H. David Derby was ordered to surrender to the United States Marshal in two weeks’ time.  Patti Lynn Derby was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on a date yet to be set.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Dubuque Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Court file information at  The case file number is 19-CR-1035. Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

Updated July 6, 2020

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud