The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 31, 2013

Investigators: Trusted aide swiped $10,000 from Danville patient

By Karen Blackledge
The Daily Item

— DANVILLE — A professional caregiver with power of attorney stole more than $10,000 from a bedridden nursing home resident over whom she had power of attorney, and left the victim with only $4.85 in an account, Mahoning Township police said.

Grace A. Zigner, 64, of 500 and 504 S. Vine St., Coal Township, allegedly stole $10,145 from the account of Betty Yoder, 58, of Grandview Health Homes, from June 5, 2009, through Aug. 11.

According to the charges filed by Cpl. Clay Fahringer, Yoder has been bedridden and physically dependent since at least 1999.

Zigner was employed by CRI — a management group providing care to dependent people. She started providing care to Yoder at her Shamokin home in 1999, police said.

Zigner was named power of attorney for Yoder as of May 27, 1999, police said.

Police received a call from Yoder on July 17.

Yoder told them she suspected Zigner was not exercising her power of attorney in her best interest in September 2009 and appointed a relative as her new power of attorney as of Oct. 5, 2009. No one contacted Susquehanna Bank about the change, police said.

According to the charges, Zigner began issuing checks from the account June 5, 2009, and signing them as “Grace A. Zigner POA.”

On June 16, 2009, one day after Yoder was admitted to Grandview, there was a deposit of $15,000 in her account from a life insurance benefit from her deceased husband, Barry.

An audit of 23 checks written by Zigner from Yoder’s account from June 5 through Nov. 16, 2009, showed nine checks appeared to be for legitimate purposes for Yoder’s care, police said.

Fourteen checks totaling $10,145 were issued to cash or to Zigner’s son, Frank L. Doone Jr., police said.

Police said Zigner opened an account with Fingerhut under Yoder’s name and made fraudulent charges totaling $422.

After the final check was issued to Doone on Nov. 16, 2009, only $4.85 remained in the account, police said. Zigner closed the account in December 2011, police said.

On Aug. 27, Zigner voluntarily agreed to be questioned by Mahoning Township police in the Shamokin City Police Department.

She told police she issued checks to her son so he could travel to the bank for Zigner because she doesn’t drive. She admitted she borrowed some of the money but was paying Yoder back by paying Yoder’s monthly phone bill at Grandview.

She estimated she owed Yoder $5,000 to $6,000.

In September, Yoder told Mahoning Township police she was receiving invoices and bills from Fingerhut. She said she never opened a charge account there and suspected Zigner of opening the account in her name.

Police found the account was opened Sept. 25 in Yoder’s name with purchases and deliveries totaling $422. Additional orders totaled $509 but they weren’t processed. The billing address on the account was Zigner’s residence. That address was changed to the nursing home Aug. 11, police said.

Fahringer charged Zigner with theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, acting as power of attorney for her own gain and identity theft.