Former COA Home Care Coordinator Indicted
Kathryn Christopher allegedly stole $900K from a frail Oliver Road woman.
The former home care coordinator for Belmont's Council of Aging has been indicted on charges that she allegedly stole over $900,000 from a frail elderly Oliver Road resident with dementia, including obtaining a signature under false pretenses for the victim’s will and mortgage, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone.
Kathryn Christopher, 64, of Everett, was indicted today, Sept. 15, by a Middlesex grand jury on charges of larceny of a person over 60 over $250 and three counts of obtain a signature by false pretense, according to Leone's office.
An arraignment date has not yet been set.
In July 2010, Belmont Patch reported that the Enforcement Division of the State Ethics Commission alleged that Christopher violated the state's conflict of interest law, by coordinating services for an elderly COA client – who was diagnosed with dementia symptoms, and later, advanced Alzheimer's – and then selecting herself to provide that care.
Belmont Patch also reported that records at the South Middlesex County Register of Deeds in Cambridge showed three sizable mortgages totaling nearly half a million dollars taken out during a 15-month period in the name of Dorothy Gough on the small house she owned at 65 Oliver Rd.
"This defendant is alleged to have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from a vulnerable elderly victim, in addition to having illegally coerced her into signing a new will over to the defendant," Leone said.
"Compounding the troubling predatory nature of the allegations is that the defendant was employed as a city official, thereby violating the trust of the public and those whom she was supposed to serve and assist. The elderly are our most deserving population and we are dedicated to fully prosecuting this troubling case.”
According to authorities, in 2003, Christopher worked as the COA's home care coordinator. The victim was referred to Christopher’s office due to her medical state which left her confused and caused the victim to have a difficult time with her memory.
Christopher’s role was to follow up on the referral and establish services for the victim’s needs. Instead, the defendant assigned herself the role of taking care of the victim, which was a violation of the company’s policy.
The victim allegedly paid the defendant using her personal checks, but authorities allege that within three months, the defendant began to make payments to her own personal creditors as well as for her family, with the use of the victim’s personal checking account. Additionally, the defendant is alleged to have assisted the victim in opening a joint savings account with the intention of using the money for the victim’s care services. Over the next four years, the defendant is alleged to have stolen over $450,000 from the victim, according to Leone.
In 2004, it is alleged that the defendant took the victim to two separate attorneys in an effort to change her will. The two attorneys each observed the victim’s declining mental state and refused to assist in preparing a new will.
One of the two attorneys suggested that the defendant bring the victim to a doctor to ensure that she was mentally capable of understanding the changes to the will. The defendant allegedly ignored the advice and brought the victim to a third attorney who created a new will, listing the defendant as the beneficiary and the power of attorney.
During the signing of the new will, it is alleged that the victim appeared confused and signed her name incorrectly several times.
Authorities further allege that on two occasions the defendant assisted the victim in signing a mortgage for her. The first occasion took place in July 2005, just days after the victim was released from a hospital. The second occasion was in October 2006, the same day the victim was transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility. During the second signing, the victim is alleged to have appeared to be lethargic and tired.
The total amount of money for both mortgages was $450,000. The money was allegedly used to open the joint account and was intended to be used for home care, however less than $5,000 was used for home care.
During the course of the investigation, a doctor opinioned that the victim did not have the mental capacity to understand what was happening as early as 2004 when she signed a new will.