By JON HAWORTH, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — An unlicensed caregiver from Craigslist has been arrested after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars over a four-year period off an elderly and incapacitated 89-year-old man.
Christine Garthright, 51, was arrested and taken into custody on Sept. 23 following a four-month investigation by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) in Arizona after detectives were able to attribute a financial loss to her patient of more than $13,000, though authorities say the total amount of money she took from him is likely much higher.
Suspicions first began in May earlier this year when a YCSO deputy met with the elderly man and his daughter in Dewey, Arizona, after the daughter, who admittedly had not been monitoring her father’s financial situation for several years, discovered suspicious transactions on his account which led her to suspect that Garthright may have been financially exploiting her father.
The man who had recently suffered a stroke, is hard of hearing, can’t see well and also has occasional memory loss said he relied on Garthright to take care of him as well as act as his transportation since he cannot drive.
“Garthright began self-appointed unlicensed caregiving duties about 4 years ago after travelling from Maryland,” said the YCSO in a statement detailing the case. “The 89-year-old victim requested and allowed her to work as a ‘live-in’ rent free in lieu of a salary. It was learned during this time the victim bought Garthright a car, bought Garthright’s daughter a car and paid her daughter’s rent in Washington state. Additionally, the victim paid several thousand dollars to fix Garthright’s teeth and occasionally paid to allow Garthright to visit her daughter in Washington.”
But when the victim’s daughter took a look at her father’s finances in May, she discovered that Garthright had written a total of 26 unauthorized checks to herself and another eight unauthorized checks to her daughter between June 2018 and May 2020 which added up to more than $11,000.
“She also used the victim’s ATM card without permission to withdraw cash and according the victim, stole several thousands of dollars from his safe,” said the YCSO.
Authorities also allege that Garthright had become verbally abusive, used foul language constantly and even purportedly struck the elderly man in the face when he refused to provide money to her.
Detectives eventually obtained video footage of Garthright’s ATM transactions from the victim’s account.
“Garthright can be seen making cash withdrawals, turn away from view of the vehicle where the victim was sitting, and place cash in a separate pocket,” the YCSO confirmed. “There were occasions where Garthright would make 2 or 3 cash withdrawals in a single ATM visit and stuff the cash in her pocket. The victim confirmed that multiple cash withdrawals during a single visit were never authorized.”
Detectives were able to locate Garthright in July earlier this year but she claimed that all of those financial transactions were authorized by the victim while fully caring for the victim and was not arrested at that time.
Subsequent attempts to reach Garthright were unsuccessful until detectives received a call from her on Sept. 21 saying that she planned to come back to Arizona to see the victim but did not disclose why.
“On September 23, 2020, Garthright did return to the victim’s home and was arrested by the detective,” said the YCSO. “Garthright also knew she had been ordered to stay away from the victim several weeks prior or could be arrested for trespassing and she ignored the order.”
Garthright was then arrested and booked into the Camp Verde Detention Center on charges including Fraud Schemes, Theft, Computer Tampering, Trespassing and Forgery. Bond is set at $50,000.
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