May 16, 2012
For more information, contact: John J. McCarthy, (240) 777-7390
Seth Zucker, Communications Director, (240) 777-7345
DAUGHTER PLEADS GUILTY TO MISAPPROPRIATING ELDERLY MOTHER’S FUNDS
John J. McCarthy, State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, announced that Lynda LaTour pled guilty today to Misappropriation by a Fiduciary in front of the Honorable Judge Robert A. Greenberg, Circuit Court, Montgomery County, Maryland. The Defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years incarceration. LaTour will be sentenced on July 13, 2012 by the Honorable Robert A. Greenberg.
Starting in 2009, LaTour embezzled almost $250,000 from her mother, Yola Cardinali, by abusing the authority her mother gave her through a power of attorney. Mrs. Cardinali was born in 1926, and began showing signs of dementia in 2008 while she was living independently in New York City. In 2009, the Defendant obtained power of attorney to handle her mother’s finances and, in March of that year, moved her mother to Sunrise at Montgomery Village. In early September 2009, the Defendant signed a residency agreement with Sunrise of Rockville, as well as a responsible party contract under which she agreed to pay for her mother’s apartment, residential assisted living services, meals, medication,
and respite care. The Defendant carried out her contractual obligations until she told Sunrise staff, in November 2010 that her mother was out of money. In fact, when attorneys for Sunrise contacted the State’s Attorney’s Office in April 2011, the Defendant owed Sunrise approximately $30,000. (In September 2011, when Sunrise filed a separate civil action against LaTour for breach of contract, she owed more than $52,000; in February 2012, Sunrise won a default judgment against LaTour for almost $76,000).
The State’s Attorney’s Office traced Mrs. Cardinali’s assets from 2008 and determined that from the February 2009 sale of her New York home until March 2011, approximately $354,000 of her money was deposited into the Defendant’s bank account. In violation of her fiduciary duty under the power of attorney, the defendant spent just slightly more than $100,000 of that amount for her mother’s benefit. She spent the remainder for improvements to her own home (almost $11,000 for painting, nearly $7,000 for heating and air conditioning, close to $5,800 for bathroom work, $5,500 for landscaping), payments on her daughter’s student loans, and numerous other personal expenses. While the Defendant was benefiting from her mother’s money, Montgomery County had to resort to seeking guardianship to protect Mrs. Cardinali’s personal and property interests, and she was eventually transferred to another facility where her expenses are being paid for by the County’s Medical Assistance Long-Term Care Program.
“Financial exploitation of vulnerable adults and seniors is serious crime in Maryland, and we are committed to aggressively prosecuting these offenses,” McCarthy said in reaction to the plea. “This was one of the first cases investigated under the special Senior Financial Exploitation Initiative that we started last year due to the rampant increase in this type of case in the County. The circumstances are especially egregious when, as here, family members abuse a trusted relationship to take advantage of their older relatives.” In making today’s announcement, McCarthy thanked Assistant State’s Attorney Bryan Roslund for his prosecution of the case. He also praised David Newcomer, Chief Investigator, and Deborah Zuckerman, manager of the senior financial exploitation project, for their investigation. He also thanked the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention for providing grant funding to support the State’s Attorney’s Initiative.