Home Care Nurse Accused of Financial Abusing Holocaust Survivor
Losing one’s ability to live independently in old age is one of the most distressing events in a person’s life. Many elderly people resist depending on family members who once depended on them, and for some people, moving to an assisted living facility feels like turning their backs on their life’s accomplishments even while they are still alive. Therefore, relying on home health care nurses is the preferred solution for many families. The elderly person can continue living in their own home while receiving the care they need, and the nurses can, when necessary, give the patient and the family an unbiased opinion about whether the patient needs even more help than they are currently receiving. Home care nurses earn the trust of patients and their families, and this trust is usually well deserved. Occasionally, though, unscrupulous nurses exploit their patients’ trust in order to commit financial abuse. Contact an elder law attorney to find out how you can protect yourself and your elderly relatives from financial abuse.
The Nurse Who Stole $100,000 from an Elderly Couple Under Her Care
In 2011, Odalis Lopez began working for Rella and Leonard Herman, who were in their 80s and lived in Miami. The couple lived modestly but had considerable savings, much of which came from reparations money Rella had received from the German government because she was a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where her mother had died. In 2015, Rella’s only son died from cancer, and she took comfort by confiding in Lopez. Lopez, for her part, exploited Rella’s grief by asking to use Rella’s credit card with increasing frequency and even using it for purchases Rella had not asked her to make. Either because she trusted Lopez so much, or because her health and fragile emotional state kept her from noticing the unauthorized charges on her credit card statements, Rella continued to pay off the credit card balance in full each month, as she had always done.
Over the next four years, Lopez made about $100,000 in unauthorized purchases on Rella’s card, including meals at restaurants where Rella and Leonard were not present. By the time Rella’s grandson Micah found out what was going on, Lopez had depleted most of Rella’s savings. Micah started a GoFundMe page to help his grandparents recover their savings. When law enforcement found out about the situation, Lopez was arrested and charged with financial exploitation and theft from an elderly person. She is currently out on bond and awaiting trial. She could face prison time if convicted.
Let Us Help You Today
Sometimes financial abuse of elderly people goes on for years before the victims’ family members become aware of it. The best way to protect yourself from financial abuse is to make detailed plans about your care while you are still healthy enough to make such decisions. An elder law attorney can help. Contact Clearwater asset protection attorney William Rambaum to discuss your questions.