MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The caretaker of an elderly woman was arrested after she allegedly swindled nearly a million dollars out of her charge and went on a gambling spree.
Marie Petit-Louis, 40, mother of four, is facing a charge of exploitation of the elderly.
“The victim trusted her, trusted her to take care of her, fix her lunch, take her to her doctors appointments and on the backside she was stealing from her, said Coral Gables Police Officer Kelly Denham.
According to Coral Gables police, they received a call from Linda Summer who said she suspected a caregiver for her 86-year old mother, Annette Reff, had been taking money from her mother’s accounts.
She said the missing money was discovered by her sister who had gone over their mother’s Wells Fargo account. She added that when she asked her mother about the money, her money said she didn’t know anything about it.
When investigators looked into the three caregivers who took care of Reff, their suspicions fell on Petit-Louis. When they had one of the other caregivers call Petit-Louis and asked about the money, she allegedly said that Reff had withdrawn the money and given it to the people on the streets and to the Haitian Church.
When police asked Reff about her giving the money away, “she denied doing so and questioned why would she give her money away and especially to the Haitian Church when she is Jewish,” according to Petit-Louis arrest warrant.
Another aide who took care of Reff told police that “Ms. Reff was so stingy with her money that Ms. Reff didn’t even want to spend money on food.”
From February 22, 2010 through July 6, 2012, Petit-Louis reportedly took Reff for $928,528.44.
This was done through the closing of a series of Reff’s financial accounts and checks for the accounts’ value were deposited into her personnel account at the Wells Fargo Bank. After those funds were deposited, Petit-Louis would allegedly take Reff to the bank to withdraw the cash and give it to her.
“She would drive the victim who had dementia up to the bank and say, ‘Hey, I want to withdraw the money,'” said Denham.
Investigators say Petit-Louis knew Reff suffered from dementia and took advantage of it.
Petit-Louis, according to police, used some of the money to gamble at the Magic City Casino, where data shows she gambled more than $8 million. However, the amount taken from Reff totals $928,529.44.
Reff, of Coral Gables, passed away in August 9, 2012.
The judge has ordered her bail set at $250,000 plus house arrest, but Petit-Louis cannot be released because she also has an immigration hold.
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