Caregiver admits stealing from blind woman
BALLSTON SPA Mary Farchione couldn’t even see the woman robbing her blind.
The 82-year-old Wilton woman’s eyesight was rapidly deteriorating, to the point that she couldn’t see her bank statements to realize that Michele Rose, her home health aide, was siphoning away thousands of dollars from her account each month. And by the time Farchione’s family got wise to the scheme after about five years, Rose had made off with more than $328,000.
“[Rose] just got more and more brazen,” Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy III said Tuesday. “She would go to the bank two or three times a week and cash checks made out to herself.”
Rose, 49, of Saratoga Springs, admitted to one count of second-degree grand larceny during a plea agreement accepted by Judge Jerry Scarano in Saratoga County Court on Tuesday, less than two weeks before she was scheduled to go to trial. She now faces between three years and nine years in prison when sentenced Dec. 4.
Murphy said Rose basically left Farchione penniless and with no resources to live on her own. He said the elderly woman now relies on Medicare to pay her bills at an assisted living facility in Saratoga Springs.
“She has no assets left,” he said. “They were all taken by Rose.”
Farchione’s family started looking for an aide after her husband died in 2005. Rose was referred to the family and was hired on a part-time basis to assist her with daily chores.
Rose had access to Farchione’s bank accounts and credit cards because her duties included assisting with the woman’s bills and maintaining her home. But the elderly woman was unaware of any irregularities in her finances because she was also dependent on Rose to read her mail and other correspondence.
The situation was uncovered when one of Farchione’s five adult children — all of whom live outside the area — tried to get money from one of her bank accounts to pay a medical bill. Further investigation revealed that Rose had left the woman with thousands of dollars in delinquent bills, past-due credit cards and even a disconnect notice from National Grid.
Investigators determined that Rose started pilfering money from Farchione sometime in 2006 and continued until she was caught in October 2011. They also learned that Rose had two other elderly clients in her care but didn’t appear to be stealing from either of them.
Murphy said Rose will likely be ordered to repay $110,000 in restitution during her sentencing. He said the case is likely to spur civil action as the woman’s family tries to recoup additional funds stolen by Rose.
Murphy said there’s no clear explanation of what Rose spent the money on. He said Rose does have some assets that could be used to make good on the restitution to Farchione, whose lifestyle changed dramatically as a result of the theft.
“Mrs. Farchione worked very hard her entire life to save for her later years, and defendant’s systematic theft of Farchoine’s life savings has left Farchione with no resources to return to her home and live the rest of her life with the same degree of independence she worked so hard to achieve,”