Saturday, January 6, 2018

Two caregivers sentenced for exploiting a vulnerable Willcox adult

Two caregivers were sentenced for exploiting a 74-year old vulnerable adult in Willcox.

Theresa Alice Titus was sentenced to seven years' probation, while Reynard Gordon was sentenced to five years' prison, said Mia Garcia, director of community relations for the Office of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

“Restitution will be determined after an accounting by the trustee,” Garcia told the Range News.

The two were sentenced Monday, Dec. 18, in the Division Five Courtroom of Cochise County Superior Court Judge James L. Conlogue. Arizona Assistant Attorney General Douglas Clark prosecuted the case.

Titus and Gordon had been convicted of fraudulent schemes and artifices, theft from a vulnerable adult and two counts of forgery.

The 74-year-old victim, whom a psychologist had deemed vulnerable to exploitation, had deposited two $60,000 checks into her account at the Cochise Credit Union in Willcox. At the urging of Titus, the woman then attempted to immediately withdraw $30,000.

Titus also tried to deposit into her own account $15,000 and $9,900 in checks, written against the victim's account.

Gordon had also presented the Credit Union with an affidavit of donation, attesting that the victim wanted to give Gordon the entire $120,000, as well as giving Gordon financial and medical power of attorney over her.

When it appeared that the victim did not understand the document, the local Credit Union refused to notarize the power of attorney, instead contacting Adult Protective Services.

After a search of the victim's home — which had no running water — police found $14,800 in cash hidden in a “derelict truck,” where Gordon appeared to be living.

More than $10,000 of the victim's money remains missing, Brnovich said.

While her comments are not specific to the case, Cochise County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Carol Capas talked about the potential for victimizing the elderly.

“The problem is when you have someone who does not have any support (by family or close friends) and they are vulnerable,” she told the Range News.
What makes these cases difficult is that they may not be reported, as the elderly person might not realize he or she is being victimized.

“Once they become aware of the fraud/theft, it may be too late because the suspect(s) could be already gone and/or the victim may pass and no one is aware of the situation,” Capas said. “We can tell people not to let anyone into their lives without knowing/trusting them, but those people can be the same ones that steal from them.”

The Sheriff's Office encourages family members to be aware of their elders and to “help keep track of their financial and medical needs as often as possible,” though doing so can be problematic, “due to the lack of family and friends, as well as “the isolation in more rural parts of the county for elderly people,” Capas said.

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Two caregivers sentenced for exploiting a vulnerable Willcox adult

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