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Power of Attorney Can Be Abused

While his mother was in a Kentucky nursing home, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and unable to manage her own care or financial affairs, John Jerome O’Hara was supposed to be looking out for her, managing thousands of dollars of monthly income. Named Power of Attorney in June 2014, he was supposed to be using that income for her benefit. However, that’s not what happened.

As The Washington Post reports in the article “He had power of attorney over his Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother—and stole $332,000, grand jury says,” for nearly four years, O’Hara robbed his mother instead. The charges contained 18 counts—ten of bank fraud, four of wire fraud and four of “access device fraud.”

The charges carry a maximum of several lifetimes in prison, the indictment said.

Each bank fraud count carries a maximum of 30 years in prison. In addition, there’s the potential for hefty fines and restitution.

O’Hara took the funds, in part, by writing checks to himself, according to the indictment.

He also wrote checks out to cash or signed “POA” for power of attorney. He withdrew money from her bank accounts to use for his expenses, prosecutors allege.

O’Hara’s alleged theft left a trail of financial distress, which was clear to investigators. Most significantly, he failed to pay his mother’s living expenses, the indictment said. This forced other family members to pay more than $100,000 to keep her cared for at the nursing home.

And that wasn’t all. According to the indictment, his mother’s house in Lexington went into foreclosure because O’Hara failed to make mortgage payments.

Reference: The Washington Post (December 9, 2018) “He had power of attorney over his Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother—and stole $332,000, grand jury says”

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