OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the sentencing of Lesley Danielle Pinola and her sister, Rita Ann Tiffiany Martinez, for stealing approximately $272,000 from a 66-year-old woman who resided at A Place Called Home II, a residential care facility located in Escalon, CA. In San Joaquin County Superior Court, Pinola previously pled no contest to one felony count of theft from an elder or dependent adult and was sentenced today to 180 days in jail and two years of felony probation. Martinez previously pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property and was sentenced today to 90 days in jail and one year of probation.
“Two sisters decided to take advantage of an elderly resident for their own personal gain, and now they are facing the consequences of their actions. The stolen money that has been returned will be donated towards its intended purpose, fulfilling the last wishes of a resident who wanted to do good for others,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our senior citizens face financial abuse all too often, and I am committed to raising awareness on this issue and protecting other residents from falling victim to similar crimes.”
An investigation by the California Department of Justice revealed that Pinola, a facility administrator at A Place Called Home II, convinced the victim to provide checks totaling over $272,000, to which she had no right collecting. Martinez assisted with the theft by allowing large amounts of stolen money to be deposited into her bank accounts. The victim subsequently passed away from serious health issues. In her final will and trust, the victim requested to donate 50% of the proceeds of her estate to Doctors Without Borders USA, and 50% to Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California. The defendants’ fraudulent actions significantly deprived the victim of these final wishes.
As part of today’s agreement, both Pinola and Martinez were required to immediately pay $240,000 back into the victim’s estate, and Pinola will be required to pay back the remaining amount while serving probation. The entire amount of approximately $272,000 will ultimately be paid back to the victim’s estate and distributed to the two charities listed in the victim’s will and trust.
The criminal investigation into Pinola and Martinez was conducted by the Attorney General’s Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (DMFEA). DMFEA investigates and prosecutes those responsible for abuse, neglect, and fraud committed against elderly and dependent adults across the state. DMFEA also works to protect Californians by investigating and prosecuting those who perpetrate fraud on the Medi-Cal program. 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.