Woman pleads guilty to financially exploiting vulnerable adults
Published 9:14 am Saturday, June 16, 2018
Bridget Ann Fodness, 40, of Austin pleaded guilty to felony financial exploitation of vulnerable adults-breach of fiduciary obligations as part of a plea agreement on Friday in Mower County District Court.
Charges of felony financial exploitation of vulnerable adults-use/manage/take property for benefit of someone else, felony financial exploitation of vulnerable adults-deprive of property or resources for benefit of someone else and felony theft-take/use/transfer movable property without consent will be dismissed at the sentencing.
According to court documents, staff members of Independent Management Services reported in May 2017 that Fodness had stolen money meant for clients’ use. Part of her job as a “guardian and/or conservator” was to go shopping and make purchases for her clients. An IMS employee who led the corporation’s internal investigation, found many discrepancies; including forged signatures on receipts and property that was allegedly purchased, but not located. The largest cumulative amount taken from one client was $6,657.
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A police detective and Mower County Human Services personnel spoke with six of those clients. The documents stated all of the victims said that they never gave the defendant permission or authority to take or use their money for her own benefit.
IMS told police that it has reimbursed the victims.
When confronted about the missing money by IMS personnel, Fodness informed the staff that she had a problem with alcohol and that she had been stealing client funds and had taken money from a lock box in the office, according to court documents. Fodness told an officer the last time she stole any money was around the beginning of April 2017 and she allegedly admitted stealing money and falsifying receipts and that her acts began in December 2016. She was arrested on Oct. 18.
Fodness will be sentenced on Aug. 23.