Legal guardian allegedly fleeced elderly woman

Published 10:47am Tuesday, January 14, 2014

After noticing tens of thousands of dollars missing from her checking account, an Austin woman believes her guardian with power of attorney had taken advantage of her situation.

In early December, Mower County attorneys charged Kathy Marie Schafer of Blackfoot, Idaho, with two felony counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Schafer, 42, has her first appearance scheduled later this month in Mower County Court.

According to the court complaint, the victim, in her late 70s, was ill and had appointed Schafer power of attorney to help with finances.

However, in November the victim noticed withdrawls she did not authorize and discovered she was missing more than $17,000 from her checking account. After the victim discovered there was missing money from one account, she went to look for her checkbook, but it was gone.

After further investigation, the victim and authorities discovered the victim was missing more than $60,000. According to the complaint, Schafer had written checks to herself, made balance transfers and was making transactions via online banking. The victim said she had never set up an online account, however.

In April 2010, the victim opened a checking account and deposited $120,000. In June 2013, there was still $118,000, but by November there was only $61,000 left.

According to the complaint, Schafer said the victim was paying her for travel expenses from Idaho. Schafer further stated the victim agreed to help with her debt and gave her thousands of dollars worth of items before moving, so another person wouldn’t inquire about getting them. Schafer also wrote a check to herself to buy a camper because she said the victim wanted to go camping, the complaint added.

A detective with the Austin Police Department set up an interview with Schafer and the Blackfoot Police Department, in which Schafer divulged the information. Schafer admitted she wrote the checks, but said that was an agreement made with the victim.

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