POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) — A caregiver is accused of stealing $14,000 from an 80-year-old Central Florida woman with dementia.
Polk County detectives on Monday arrested 56-year-old Donnitta Jean Vaugh of Kissimmee.
Vaughn, a licensed certified nursing assistant, was hired to help the victim in June of 2019 when a physician recommended she not live alone in her home.
According to authorities, Vaughn was paid $720 a week to help the victim with personal care, household chores and take the victim to her doctor’s appointments.
Following another doctor’s exam in December of 2019, it was revealed that the victim did “not appear capable of making responsible decisions pertaining to healthcare, finances, or housing matters.”
Deputies said Vaughn worked with the victim until March of 2021 and had access to financial information including debit cards, credit cards and personal identification information.
A friend of the victim discovered one of the 80-year-old’s credit cards was missing during the final weeks of Vaughn’s employment, deputies said.
According to authorities, the friend found several fraudulent charges made on the card and found “suspicious activity” on the victim’s credit report.
The victim’s friend contacted detectives after learning Vaughn would take the victim to the bank to withdraw cash to pay her caregiver, instead of the checks that Vaughn had initially been paid with, authorities said.
Detectives said Vaughn was paid $4,868 more than her agreed-upon salary. Vaughn is also accused of obtaining three credit cards in the victim’s name to purchase items such as clothing, jewelry and cosmetics, as well as eat out at restaurants and pay child care fees.
Nearly $9,600 in total was spent on the three cards, authorities said.
According to deputies, Vaughn told them she thought she wasn’t getting paid enough and “knew the victim did not have the mental capacity to give permission for an increased salary, so she began using the victim’s credit cards to pay her bills and purchase other items.”