OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the guilty plea of a Norco, California woman accused of committing financial elder abuse against a resident of an assisted-living facility in Riverside County. The defendant, who assisted elderly clients with their finances and living arrangements, was granted Power of Attorney (POA) by her victim. As POA, she failed to act on behalf of her client, and instead used her position to gain access to the victim’s funds for her own personal gain. Abusing her role as POA, the defendant defrauded the victim of more than $260,000 in total. Today, the defendant pled guilty to one count of elder abuse and one count of money laundering and has been sentenced to three years in local prison. The defendant has also been ordered to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution, which includes restitution to an additional victim.
“Stealing from elders and deliberately mismanaging their finances is a heinous crime,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our elders deserve to be treated with dignity, not as puppets to further the agendas of selfish individuals. The California Department of Justice is committed to defending the rights of our most vulnerable and holding their abusers accountable.”
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 victim’s finances. Records obtained from the assisted-living facility confirmed that the defendant was the POA and responsible party for her victim. Billing records revealed that facility board and care costs were not being paid by the defendant, putting the victim — who was over 65 years old, dependent, and suffering from an impaired cognitive condition — at risk of eviction. Forensic auditing by DOJ showed the victim 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.
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 $50,522,020 for federal fiscal year 2021-2022. The remaining 25% is funded by the State of California. The federal fiscal year is defined as October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.