MIAMI, FL – October 9, 2020 - A 61-year-old woman faces two felony charges after police say she stole approximately $74,000.00 from the person for whom she was to care. The victim is an older woman from Boca Raton, according to cbs12.com. The woman went before a judge to be arraigned on charges that include exploitation of the elderly over $50,000.00 and identity theft over $50,000.00. The victim said to the police that she lost her ATM card and never reported that to her bank. Her money started going missing after the back card disappeared.
The investigation into the victim’s missing money started in March of 2017. The daughter of the 85-year-old schoolteacher noticed that large transactions were listed on her mother’s account. The transactions were unauthorized by the cardholder. The police investigated the claims of missing money and found 22 checks made payable to cash on the victim’s checking account. The money went to pay for debts such as a car loan, cable bills, and cell phone bills. She paid her children’s bills as well as her bills with the stolen money. The alleged victim’s family said that the caregiver had no authority to use the woman’s account.
The alleged victim is a retired school teacher who worked in New York. She said that she saved all of her money for retirement. The alleged victim also said that she trusted the woman and now feels incredibly vulnerable after she realized her caregiver stole from her.
The woman accused of embezzlement worked for a nursing company. Specifically, the accused was the victim’s caregiver from December 2015 until she was fired in May of 2016. According to the news reports, the company discharged the woman because another client accused her of stealing. Law enforcement investigators say that the alleged thief has a criminal history that included a charge for fraud. They also said that the woman had an active arrest warrant for fraud out of a town in Michigan.
Elderly Exploitation in Florida
Florida laws make exploiting the elderly or a disabled person a crime under Florida Statutes §825.13. Under §825.13, a person is guilty of exploiting an older adult or a disabled person if the accused is in a position of trust and that person knowingly obtains or knowingly attempts to obtain the elderly or disabled person’s money, assets, or property coupled with the intent to deprive the owner of the money, assets, or property the benefit thereof.
The crime of exploitation of an elderly or disabled person could be committed if the accused is in a business relationship and takes money, assets, or property with the intent to deprive the owner of the benefit of that property. Similarly, a person who is caring for an elderly or disabled person who has no mental capacity to consent and steals money, assets, or property commits the crime of exploitation of an elderly person.
The severity of the penalty depends on the amount of money stolen. A person may be convicted of a third-degree felony if the amount stolen is $10,000.00 or less. The possible penalty for a third-degree felony is a five-year-prison sentence. The crime elevates to a second-degree felony if the amount stolen is $10,000.00 to $50,000.00, which is punishable up to fifteen years in prison. Any amount above that is a first-degree felony, carrying a punishment up to 30 years in prison.