A woman has been arrested for grand theft of over $50,000 from someone over 65 as well as exploitation of over $100,000 from an elderly person. The felony charges allege that the defendant took advantage of a 92-year-old Palm Beach woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The 66-year-old defendant, who was once married to a billionaire financier, has reportedly known the elderly woman for many years. She allegedly took “complete control” of the woman’s money in late 2011 and became her power of attorney.
The defendant allegedly used her elderly victim’s trust money in the ensuing years to make extravagant purchases including multiple luxury cars and a $2.35 million Palm Beach penthouse next door to the victim.
To complicate matters, the defendant’s boyfriend, a financial advisor, reportedly handled the elderly woman’s trust account at UBS Financial Services. He was terminated for not disclosing his relationship with the defendant and has lost his broker’s license. He is not facing criminal charges. However, a federal investigation into his activity led to the criminal probe that landed his girlfriend in jail.
A physician who evaluated the woman shortly after her move to a West Palm Beach assisted living facility last year said that her mental capacity was “zero,” and she was “unaware of her surroundings.” Nonetheless, the defendant allegedly orchestrated changes in the woman’s will that made the defendant and her daughter her beneficiaries. In addition to her money, the victim reportedly owns three luxury cars and two penthouses in Palm Beach and Manhattan.
As recently as this year, the Department of Children and Families got involved. A judge designated that the defendant could no longer be power of attorney or co-trustee for the woman. However, she was allowed to remain her health care surrogate.
Regardless of the amount of money and property they have, elderly people are often victims of people who take advantage of them. Sadly, sometimes these people are family members. Victimization is made easier when these elderly people suffer from dementia or simply aren’t familiar with business and legal transactions, let alone the technology now used for these transactions. People who are concerned that a loved one might fall prey to such wrongdoing should consult with a legal professional experienced in estate planning to determine the best legal option, such as a guardianships, for helping to protect that person from losing his or her life savings.
Source: Palm Beach Daily News, “Woman charged with exploiting elderly woman” Michele Dargan, Apr. 24, 2014