Arraignment set for woman accused of felony theftA Solon Springs woman accused of siphoning off more than $71,000 from an elderly couple who gave her power of attorney was bound over for arraignment following a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
By: Maria Lockwood, The Daily Telegram
By MARIA LOCKWOOD
Daily Telegram Staff Writer
A Solon Springs woman accused of siphoning off more than $71,000 from an elderly couple who gave her power of attorney was bound over for arraignment following a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Jennifer Lynn Lefler, 31, faces one count of felony theft for allegedly draining the bank accounts of her grandparents, Chester and Jennie Pattee, during the past year while the couple was living at a nursing home.
According to the criminal complaint, Chester Pattee had about $83,000 in liquid assets available when he entered the nursing home in May 2007. As of January 2008, he had $100 in his savings account and $3,000 in his checking account, although he and his wife had received about $17,752 in social security and pension income during those eight months.
After more than an hour of testimony, Court Commissioner Paul Baxter found probable cause to believe a felony had been committed, but on a smaller scale. Based on a trio of checks received into evidence, Baxter found about $5,400 in funds paid to Lefler that were questionable. According to Assistant District Attorney Kelly Thimm, a theft rises to the level of felony if it involves more than $2,500.
Defense attorney Rick Gondik called the case a “witch hunt” by those in charge of Medicaid applications.
The alleged theft came to light when Lefler applied for Medicaid for her grandparents. Kathy Izzard, an economic support specialist for the Douglas County Department of Health and Human Services, requested verification of the couple’s assets and where their money had been spent. She testified that Lefler was unable to provide documentation verifying where the bulk of the couple’s money had gone.
At the same time, bills for the couple’s nursing home stay were not being paid, according to documents and testimony received Wednesday. The three checks Baxter pointed out were written out to Lefler with a note on the memo portion indicating the money was to go to the nursing home. No payments were received by the nursing home in those amounts on or near those dates, according to testimony.
The arraignment was set for June 23. Gondik said he planned to file a motion beforehand to dismiss the case based on a transcript of the preliminary hearing.