Two residents of Southern Arizona have been arrested and are facing a number of charges based on an alleged scheme to defraud a 91-year-old client while they were providing home care support services. A total of 72 counts have been filed against these two women, according to the indictment.
Margaret Arlene Gastelum, 59, and Mona Lisa Rodriguez, 36, both of Tucson, face these charges handed down by a grand jury. Prosecutors allege that Gastelum and Rodriguez had been providing home care support services for the victim for about three years and at some point during this tenure, they gained access to the victim’s bank account information, credit cards, and even opened credit cards in the victim’s name without the victim being aware.
As reported by Chron.com in the news post, 2 southern Arizona women indicted in elder care fraud scheme:
“They’re facing bank fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy and scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 16.
Prosecutors say Gastelum and Rodriguez provided home care assistance for a 91-year-old victim from 2015 through 2017.
The defendants allegedly gained access to the victim’s banking information and fraudulently transferred or used funds.
The women also allegedly used the victim’s credit cards, obtained credit cards without the victim’s knowledge and consent, and overcharged for services.
As a result of the defendants’ scheme to defraud, prosecutors say the victim lost about $184,000.’’
It was not made clear during the indictment whether or not these two had been working for an agency or independently. As many home care agencies and other dedicated professionals understand, black marks such as this give the entire industry a bad reputation.
It’s also important to understand that these two individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty and there has been no word on a plea or whether they had retained legal counsel as of the writing of this news blog.
72 counts on the indictment is a significant number and indicate just how severe these crimes were. It was not made public what prosecutors may allege these two individuals had done with the money, or if there would be any possible way for the victim to receive restitution.
Elder care fraud is a serious offense and many states provide extra penalties for taking advantage of elderly and disabled individuals. It’s unclear whether Arizona has a provision for that and no initial court date was noted in the public record. Neither Ms. Gastelum nor Ms. Rodriguez made any public comment following their arrest.