A 58-year-old St. Johns County woman is accused of siphoning $140,000 from her 87-year-old mother's account, according to investigators.
Deputies said Patricia Marshall opened a secret trust account, and her brother, Christopher Barrick, discovered it last year. Deputies said Barrick learned that Marshall had siphoned the money from the account of her mother, Helen Barrick, who has dementia.
Investigators said other transactions were discovered dating back to 2004, making the total fraud amount more than $168,000.
Deputies said Marshall opened an account at Prosperity Bank, which is now know as Ameris "and began to, over time, over a course of from 2004 to 2013, began funneling some of that money away from those accounts to her own accounts," said Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan.
Marshall told investigators she had a verbal agreement with her mother that she would compensate for her time taking care of her at $20 an hour because she had to scale back her job. She claims she eventually lost her business, and admitted she didn't keep records of her hours and compensation and expenditures for her mother, according to an arrest report.
The State Attorney's Office initially declined to file charges, but that changed when it got records from the bank where the accounts were kept. Investigators said the office also got texts from Marshall to her brother admitting she used the money for her own purposes.
"If it weren't for the sibling, certainly, no one would have known about this fraud," Mulligan said.
"This conning of older people, whether they're close friends or they're family or strangers, is almost extra mean, when you think about it," said Dan Sullivan, a participant in the St. Johns County Council on Aging. "Really something that's disgraceful."
Becky Yanni, the executive director of the St. Johns County Council on Aging, said aging seniors tend to be a trusting group and can be especially vulnerable to fraud of all kinds.
"I think it's a tragic situation," Yanni said. "You never know what's going on inside a family and what drives people to behave this way, but it is a real shame."