One of the worst crimes one person can commit on another is stealing and when the victim is elderly and with dementia or some other form of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s especially disturbing. For one man in Philadelphia, PA, it could be that justice is about to catch up with him. For the rest of us, it’s a reminder of the importance of powers of attorney.
Antoine Turay, a funeral director, is being accused of stealing close to $300,000 not from a client of the funeral home, but rather, a neighbor. The victim is an 89 year old woman whose niece reported what she believed was financial elder abuse to law enforcement. The investigation spanned a year and by the time it was completed, Turay was ready to turn himself in.
As we know, elder abuse is rampant around the country and when a case unfolds like this, it serves as a reminder for loved ones, especially those with powers of attorney and otherwise responsible for the wellbeing of their family member, to remain vigilant in their efforts of protecting that person. The fact that Turay was able to allegedly steal hundreds of thousands of dollars brings an additional urgency to this problem. Fortunately, Philadelphia’s SVU was able to work with forensic accountants in order to build a timeline that accounts for all of the stolen money.
Law enforcement say the theft took place over the course of four years – between 2009 and 2013. The elderly woman suffers with memory loss and once Turay realized that, he found an “in”. According to Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Anthony McFadden, Turay “took advantage of it, where he was actually taking his own bank accounts and transferring monies back and forth, paying off his credit cards.” He earned her trust by bringing food to her on occasion and even referred to her as his grandma.
The woman’s niece and nephew noticed missing money in multiple accounts she owns. They reported it and police soon learned that not only had he been pulling cash, he actually took control of some of those accounts and even sold a home the victim owned. Often, people name one or more powers of attorney during their estate planning process and either want to explore their options when it comes to naming a financial power of attorney or perhaps they believe they don’t have enough wealth to justify naming someone to fill that role.
She had no idea it was sold and never saw a dime from that sell. She was a retired teacher who’d spent four decades educating little ones.
Turay, if he did this, is proof that these important legal documents serve a crucial role. Had the elderly woman put into place proper protections, Turay would not have been successful in his efforts. The fact that he was a respected businessman proves the biggest crooks can come in all forms.
For now, the woman and her family are working to right the wrongs the best they can. As the criminal case moves forward, Turay isn’t speaking to the press nor is the woman’s immediate family.
If you’re wondering how this scenario would play out in a New Hampshire estate planning effort, we invite you to contact our office to learn more about how to protect you and your family from this type of illegal behavior. Proper estate planning allows you legal protections should you ever come face to face with one wishing to steal what you’ve worked hard to accomplish.