FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A southwest Florida mother and daughter hired to care for an elderly person have been sentenced to federal prison for stealing more than a half-million dollars from their former patient.
Diane Durbon, 58, of Cape Coral was sentenced to 10 years on Thursday in Fort Myers federal court, according to court records. Her daughter and co-defendant, Brittany Lukasik, received two years. The court also ordered Durbon and Lukasik to forfeit their Cape Coral residence, two vehicles and more than $542,000, which are traceable to proceeds of the crime.
Both women pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Lukasik also pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.
According to court documents, Durbon and Lukasik were hired as caretakers for the 92-year-old victim in 2016. Durbon began unlawfully accessing the victim’s investment accounts in October 2017 by having the victim answer security questions over the phone.
After being given authorization to speak to an account representative on the victim’s behalf, Durbon began moving funds to a money market account and then writing checks to her daughter.
More than $231,000 in checks were issued to Lukasik between November 2017 and July 2019, prosecutors said.
Durbon also unlawfully gained access to the victim’s annuity policy in November 2018, investigators said. After cashing out the annuity for about $244,000 and depositing it in the victim’s checking account in January 2019, 92 checks totaling more than $372,000 were issued to Lukasik over the next year, officials said.
Lukasik and Durbon used the stolen funds to pay off debt and make a variety of purchases. They spent $26,354 for a vehicle, $17,735 to pay off a car loan, more than $29,000 to pay student loan debt and more than $100,000 on credit card payments, prosecutors said.
Lukasik and Durbon also used the funds to purchase a duplex in Cape Coral. More than $100,000 of the fraudulently obtained proceeds were used to buy electronics, furniture and to remodel the duplex.