Worchester, N.Y. - Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin is urging people to check in on their elderly parents' finances more regularly after he says a 91-year-old Worchester man was bilked out of more than $11,000 over a two year period by his caregiver.
Devlin says over the last two years, 31-year-old Stephanie Shulgay had been taking cash advances on the man and his wife's bank account by using their credit and debit cards. He says Shulgay was a home health care aid for the 91-year-old man and his wife before her passing in April.
She was a trusted next door neighbor.
Shulgay also is alleged to have used the stolen money to gamble at local casinos as well as to pay some of her personal bills and some of the bills of her elderly uncle.
The New York State Department of Financial Services was called in to investigate and Devlin says Shulgay turned herself in on Thursday. She was arraigned in the Town of Worcester Court by Judge William Fisher on one count of grand larceny and was released on her own recognizance. She is scheduled to reappear in court on December 4th. We did knock on Shulgay's door on Friday, but no one answered.
Devlin says this case is disheartening, "This is becoming a large problem nationwide with the elderly being victimized, whether it's through phone solicitation or other means. They usually have limited finances to start with and having trouble meeting needs and then to have someone do this, is just horrible."
Devlin urges anyone who hires someone to care for their aging parents, make sure to not have them care for their parents' finances, "Certainly not to let any one person have control of the finances. There’s powers of attorney, there’s different things that can be done, there’s financial services available, but some people can’t afford those, there’s an additional cost. Certainly in any case there should be some checks and balances, even if it’s just a person reviewing the expenses and where the money's going."
Devlin says Shulgay was certified by a local health care agency, "They had her vetted and certified and it still happened. So even when you take necessary precautions, it still happens. So people need to be aware of those things and like I said, a set of checks and balances, spot checking the expenses just to make sure that the person is being taken care of properly."
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