Rhonda Houser pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony in December. Judge Harold Murphy handed down the sentence in U.S. District Court in Rome on Friday afternoon.
Houser is the wife of George Houser, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this month for health care fraud and tax charges.
George Houser operated three nursing homes: Moran Lake and Mt. Berry in Rome and Wildwood in Brunswick. He claimed he and his wife were co-equals in using money from Medicaid and Medicare for real estate purchases and personal expenses, but prosecutors called George Houser “the mastermind” behind the scheme.
“I am convinced this defendant would not be here if she had not done the things she did under the influence of Mr. Houser,” Murphy said when handing down his sentence.
Houser said she thinks of the employees, residents and all those affected every day.
“Your honor, I would never intentionally hurt anyone,” she said. “It is my desire to continue to serve others.”
Several members of Houser’s family and several community leaders were in the courtroom to show support for Houser. Many had written letters to Murphy.
“The court can’t sentence people on letters and saying good things about people but there are some good letters,” Murphy said.
The judge cited one letter in particular from someone who was not related to Houser as being “very helpful to the court.”
Murphy said he didn’t include community service in Houser’s sentence because he expected she would serve the community anyway based on her “lifetime of community service.”
Houser is the mother of two children and is caregiver for her 93-year-old mother-in-law, according to court testimony.
Houser did not speak to reporters after sentencing, but her attorney, Jimmy Hardy, called the sentence “a right and just sentence.”
“She is a good person,” Hardy said.