Los Angeles County officials said Monday that they were opening an investigation into possible financial exploitation of a housebound Palos Verdes Estates heiress by her money manager.
The launch of a probe into the handling of Susan Strong Davis' affairs came in response to a Times article describing how the 87-year-old widow spent millions of dollars on a four-bedroom home in Beverly Hills despite suffering from what relatives said was dementia that left her unable to make even minor decisions.
Davis' longtime money manager, John E. Larkin, sold her property for the new home at a $300,000 profit and is overseeing construction. He was also instrumental in arranging her 2005 donation of $600,000 to a charity connected to the Kabbalah Centre, the controversial spiritual organization to which he belongs.
Richard Franco, the acting program manager of the county's Adult Protective Services, called the article "very troubling" and said elder abuse investigators would begin looking into Davis' situation "ASAP."
Separately, Davis' relatives, who do not live locally, said they had called a county elder abuse hotline and asked for an investigation. Nephew Thomas Dutton Jr. said he was told that someone would visit her home and evaluate her condition.
The county elder abuse investigators are social workers who refer cases to law enforcement if they find evidence for criminal prosecution. If they determine that Davis cannot care for herself, they can work with the county Office of Public Guardian to ask a court to appoint a conservator to make financial, medical and other decisions on her behalf.
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L.A. County Looks into Possible Financial Exploitation of Heiress