Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Elder Abuse
It happens all too often, someone is hired to help an elderly person and they end up helping themselves to that person's money, and according to authorities, that's just what happened to two brothers here in South Florida. Investigative reporter carmel cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Roland Lacroix: "Those are not my checks."
This is 79-year-old Roland Lacroix just days before he died from cancer. A family friend took the video because he was concerned about Roland's health and his finances.
William Christensen: "Do you think she copied your signature?"
Roland Lacroix: "She forged my signature."
She is Joanne Perry William Christensen says Perry had been hired as Roland's health aid.
William Christensen: "The aid as we found out later was preventing people from talking with Roland."
Worse yet, Christensen says he was contacted by Roland's doctor and told the aid was standing in the way of Roland getting proper medical care.
William Christensen: "She was preventing certain tests from being performed to make sure the pancreatic cancer was being treated correctly."
Christensen rushed to the hospital from his home in South Carolina.
William Christensen: "I had to explain to him the situation where she was preventing certain treatments and preventing test that he needed."
Christensen says he then learned the aid had taken Roland's brother, Louis, out of a nursing home in New York and moved him into Roland's Pompano Beach condo.
William Christensen: "Louis is mentally challenged and is suppose to have 24/7 care."
But Christensen says Louis was left alone for at least five days while his brother Roland was in the hospital he says the aid went out of town on a trip.
Louis Lacroix: "They went to visit Joanne's brother in New Jersey."
When Louis was found there was only stale food in the refrigerator. Christensen says during the six months Louis was in Perry's care and he lost 50 pounds.
When he checked financial records for both brothers, he says money was missing and credit cards had been opened.
William Christensen: "Did you authorize Joanne to open accounts in your name at Macy's
William Christensen: "Sam's Club?"
William Christensen: "JCPenny's?"
William Christensen: "Or other stores?"
And the balances were big.
William Christensen: "She had run up each of the credit cards to the tune of about $28,000 on one, around $8,000 on another, $4,000 on another card."
Christensen went to authorities and as a result, 42-year-old Joanne Perry was arrested and charged with neglect/abuse of an elderly person in connection with Louis's treatment.
She is in the Broward jail being held on a $25,000 bond. BSO deputy Michele Mccardle investigated the case and was able to talk with Roland before his death.
Michele McCardle: "And he was able to tell me for himself you know that he did not sign those documents, that they were in fact forgeries and that he in fact was being taken advantage of by Joanne."
But she says because Roland had given Joanne Perry a power of attorney, there are no charges based on the money she spent.
Det. Michele McCardle: "Even though a lot of the things that she did were questionable, she did have that legal documentation that Roland had executed."
Carmel Cafiero: "Roland died without knowing the full extent of what had happened to his finances. His brother meanwhile is now being cared for by the state of Florida."