The 78-year-old woman moved into the assisted living home last October, after a bad fall.
One month later, Pauline Balseiro gave away her north Phoenix house to the owner of that assisted living home. Within two months, police say the owner, Maria Barbu, forged two $2,500 checks from the older woman’s accounts, payable to her business.
Now Barbu stands charged with three felonies and she’s surrendered her state license. She’s also offered to give Pauline her house back.
But first, she wants the elderly woman to pay her for work she had done after taking over the house.
“It would be unjust …,” Barbu’s attorney wrote in court documents, “to allow (Pauline) to obtain the premises without payment for the renovations that (the Barbus) paid for with their personal funds.”
Unjust is certainly a word that applies in this case. I’m just not sure I’d peg Marie Barbu as the victim.
You may recall the startling story of Pauline Balseiro. Like a lot of older Arizonans, she retired here from another state, far from family and friends. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2002 and lately had begun having trouble.
In October, she fell and several days apparently passed before she could summon help. Mayo Hospital called in a senior placement agency – one of those services that are paid handsomely by assisted living centers for sending clients their way. The placement people offered Barbu two options, based on her desire to be near her home, and on Oct. 18 Pauline moved into Barbu’s Golden Creek Assisted Living.
Almost immediately Pauline’s daughter in California and her north Phoenix neighbor began having trouble making contact with Pauline. The two women say Pauline’s attitude quickly hardened toward them.
On Nov. 18, Pauline signed over her Tatum Ranch house to Barbu, in exchange for “care taking services.”
Barbu is scheduled to go to trial on the criminal charges in August.
Meanwhile, it appears there will be a happy ending for Pauline, who is, I’m told, anxious to go home once the legalities are settled and she can be set up with some care.
But I wonder how many other vulnerable retirees are out there, willing to give away everything they own to someone they’ve known for a month?
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Elderly Woman Makes Strikes Toward Getting Her House Back