Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Elder Abuse
She was paid to protect an elderly woman, but that health care worker is now charged with stealing from her patient. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- Most people would find time in front of a judge serious business, but Pauline Wilson only laughed when a Broward County state attorney asked, "Where's the money?"
Wilson is charged with forging 83 checks to the tune of more than $20,000, and there's nothing funny about that to the family of her victim.
Phyllis Pritcher: "I mean, we really trusted her."
Phyllis Pritcher hired Wilson to care for her mother Alice, who had Parkinson's disease.
Phyllis Pritcher: "My mother was very sweet."
For the next four years, she says, Wilson became part of their family.
Phyllis Pritcher: "My mother and I grew to love her. Right now, I hate to say that, but we did."
Alice died last year, and that's when Phyllis realized something was terribly wrong with her mother's finances.
Phyllis Pritcher: "I started getting checks that were written after my mother died, checks written to Pauline."
According to police records, Wilson forged checks from Alice's bank accounts. Phyllis was stunned.
Phyllis Pritcher: "Instead of getting one paycheck a week, Pauline was writing herself four or five paychecks a week."
Wilson was arrested and charged, but Fort Lauderdale Police are worried about her other patients.
Frank Sousa, Fort Lauderdale Police Department: "That's a genuine concern that there are other victims out there. That's the whole purpose of us reaching out to the public. If someone recognizes her photo, we need them to come forward."
Carmel Cafiero: "The elderly and the frail are always at risk, but when times are tough, they become even more attractive to fraudsters looking for an easy target."
Flora Beal: "I think that any time you have a downturn in the economy, there are going to be those kind of people looking for those types of opportunities to exploit other people."
As for Wilson, she has entered a not guilty plea on grand theft and forgery charges. She's being held on a $100,000 bond.
Pauline Wilson: "I swear to it, your honor, I have no money."
And Wilson says she can't afford to pay for an attorney. Leaving police and the family wondering where the money went.
If you think you were taken advantage of by Pauline Wilson, call Fort Lauderdale Police detective Charlie Stack at 954-828-5515.
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