POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) – A caregiver is accused of stealing $14,000 from an 80-year-old Central Florida woman with dementia.
Polk County detectives arrested Donnitta Jean Vaugh, 56, of Kissimmee on Monday.
Vaughn, a licensed practical nurse, was hired to help the victim in June 2019 when a doctor advised her not to live alone in her home.
Authorities say Vaughn was paid $720 a week to help the victim with personal care, household chores and taking the victim to doctor’s appointments.
Following another medical examination in December 2019, it was revealed that the victim “did not appear capable of making responsible decisions regarding health care, finances or housing”.
Deputies said Vaughn worked with the victim until March 2021 and had access to financial information, including debit cards, credit cards and personal identification information.
A friend of the victim discovered that one of the 80-year-old’s credit cards had gone missing during the final weeks of Vaughn’s employment, deputies said.
According to authorities, the friend found several fraudulent charges made to the card and found “suspicious activity” on the victim’s credit report.
The victim’s friend contacted detectives after learning that Vaughn would be taking the victim to the bank to withdraw cash to pay his carer, instead of the checks Vaughn had originally been paid with, authorities said.
Detectives said Vaughn was paid $4,868 more than her agreed-upon salary. Vaughn is also accused of obtaining three credit cards in the victim’s name to purchase items such as clothing, jewelry and cosmetics, as well as to eat out and pay for child care costs.
Nearly $9,600 in total was spent on the three cards, authorities said.
According to deputies, Vaughn told them she thought she wasn’t being paid enough and “knew the victim didn’t have the mental capacity to give permission to raise her salary, so she started using the victim’s credit cards to pay bills and purchase other items.”