MIAMI - A Miami-Dade woman is charged with kidnapping and financial exploitation of her 80-year-old mother.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said Catherine Areu Jones, 51, used a revoked Power of Attorney to twice involuntarily place her mother in assisted living and memory care facilities so that she could gain control over the woman's finances.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told CBS4's Peter D'Oench, "What we are finding is that this is a tragic example of elderly exploitation. We have seen this on the increase in the last several years. In this case, the perpetrator is the daughter who was very smart and very educated and she wanted her mother's money and she wanted her house. "
According to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, Areu Jones is a journalist and a former periodic Fox News guest known as the "Liberal Sherpa."
The first time, Areu Jones reportedly tricked her mother into believing that she was going on an ice cream outing with her granddaughters. When she was locked in an assisted living facility instead of getting ice cream, Areu Jones' mother could call someone she knew for help before Areu Jones could instruct the facility to stop her from using the phone or receiving visitors, according to the state attorney's office.
The second time, Areu Jones and a "co-conspirator" allegedly dragged her mother from her home and took her to another facility. Neighbors who saw the woman's shoe in her driveway and the front door of her home left open called the police. An investigation led to her being released from the facility.
"Every incident of alleged elder exploitation or abuse touches our heart and never fails to shock us. It seems particularly harder to understand when the alleged perpetrator of the exploitation is a daughter, or a son or another blood relative," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
The Department of Children and Families began an investigation into Areu Jones in 2019 when she reportedly used of a quitclaim deed to gain control of her mother's house. Her mother denied signing it.
Investigators say a review of Areu Jones' mother's financial records showed a total loss of over $224,000 including a missing disbursement of the proceeds of a voluntarily taken reverse mortgage on her home.
Areu Jones is also accused of exploiting her mother by opening credit cards in the woman's name as well as numerous withdrawls from her bank account.
An arrest warrant for Areu Jones was signed on June 28th, but she avoided capture by moving to numerous locations.
She was taken into custody this week and faces multiple charges including exploitation of the elderly, organized scheme to defraud, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
At a court appearance, she was held without bond and ordered to surrender her passport and have no contact with her mother.
Rundle urged people to look for signs of elderly exploitation such as
people taking out quit claim deeds and opening up credit cards under
mysterious circumstances. She said we needed "a million eyes" to be on
the lookout for elderly exploitation.
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Daughter charged with kidnapping, financial exploitation of 88-year-old mother