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Two Riverside County victims were defrauded of more than $288,000 while residing in assisted-living facilities
OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arraignment of a woman from Norco, California for committing financial elder abuse against two residents residing in assisted-living facilities in Riverside County. The defendant, who assisted elderly clients with their finances and living arrangements, was granted Power of Attorney (POA) by both of her victims. As their POA, she allegedly failed to act on behalf of her clients and instead used her position to gain access to the victims’ funds for her own personal gain. Abusing her role as POA, the defendant allegedly defrauded the victims of more than $288,000 in total. She was arraigned today in the Riverside County Superior Court on felony charges of Financial Elder Abuse, Grand Theft of Personal Property, and Money Laundering.
“Decisions that affect a client’s financial status should be made based on the client's best interest. Our senior citizens shouldn’t have to live in fear of becoming the next victim of financial elder abuse,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The California Department of Justice is committed to holding our legal professionals accountable and protecting our most vulnerable against all forms of financial exploitation.”
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) worked in collaboration with the Hemet Police Department and Riverside County Adult Protective Services after the two agencies linked the defendant to suspicious financial conduct with the elderly victims’ finances. Records obtained from the assisted-living facilities confirmed that the defendant was the POA and responsible party for each of her alleged victims. Billing records revealed that facility board and care costs were not being paid by the defendant, putting the two victims — each of whom are over 65 years old, dependent, and suffering from an impaired cognitive condition — at risk of eviction. Forensic auditing by DOJ showed the victims had sufficient funds to pay for care, but the funds were diverted by the defendant for her own personal gain.
The criminal investigation conducted by DOJ's Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (DMFEA) resulted in the filing of eight felony charges against the defendant by the Office of the Attorney General, as well as her arrest on January 11, 2021. Through DMFEA, the Attorney General’s Office works to protect Californians by investigating and prosecuting those who perpetrate fraud on the Medi-Cal program. DMFEA also investigates and prosecutes those responsible for abuse, neglect, and fraud committed against elderly and dependent adults across the state. DMFEA regularly works with whistleblowers, the California Department of Health Care Services, and local law enforcement agencies in its investigations and prosecutions.
It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.
A copy of the complaint is available here.
DMFEA receives 75% of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $41,264,032 for federal fiscal year 2020-2021. The remaining 25%, totaling $13,754,675 for fiscal year 2020-2021, is funded by the State of California. The federal fiscal year is defined as October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.