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Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing from Father's Estate

Elder abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins highlight a recent criminal case out of Waterloo, Iowa, in which a woman was found guilty for draining more than $140,000 from her father’s estate. The woman entered a plea and received probation for her crimes.

The 32-year-old woman entered an Alford plea, which means she did not admit guilt in the case but agreed that she would most likely be found guilty if it went to court. Her mother entered a similar plea earlier in 2013 for receiving some of the money from her daughter.

The daughter, Essie Jean Cooper, was appointed executor of her father’s estate when he passed away in 2007, however, her family claims she siphoned money from her father’s estate while the issue was still in probate. Cooper allegedly stole from her father’s bank accounts over a period of six years, spending the money at casinos, on gifts for her friends, and paying rent and offering cash to her mother.

Cooper is employed as a shift manager at a fast-foot restaurant, and has no prior criminal record. Her father owned and operated U & I Construction, Grover Cement Contractors Co., and Mr. G’s Game Room. He had four daughters and four sons, who believe Cooper manipulated him into changing his will.

The man drafted an initial will in 1984 and changed it in 2006, less than one year before he died. The new version of the will left his entire estate to Cooper, with her mother as a backup beneficiary. Relatives argue, however, that he lacked the mental capacity to make this change and that Cooper influenced him into it.

Abuse against the elderly, unfortunately, is not that uncommon, especially among those with cognitive disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s, who are dependent on others. A somewhat similar case in Minnesota was recently brought to court after an 87-year-old woman died of dehydration, malnutrition, and bone-deep bed sores.

The woman’s daughter was put in charge of taking care of her elderly woman, and is now charged with felony and gross misdemeanor neglect. This case is among the first to be pursued under new state laws making neglect of a vulnerable adult a felony. Specifically the law notes that the caregiver would have to deprive the elderly person of food, clothing, and medical care and know it could result in great bodily harm to be considered a felony.

The elderly woman was found in her daughter’s apartment unconscious and with a rapid pulse when paramedics arrived in October 2012, taking her to the hospital where she died two weeks later. Her bed sores had turned septic, meaning the extent of the infection had contaminated her blood. Her daughter had been her caregiver for one year before the hospitalization.

Criminal abuse, neglect and mistreatment can also be inflicted by caregivers or even visitors at long-term skilled nursing facilities. A man in Juneau, Alaska, for example, was recently charged with two counts of fourth degree sexual assault and two counts of intentionally subjecting an individual to risk of abuse. The 64-year-old man allegedly sexually assaulted several elderly people living in an Alaskan nursing home. He faces two years in prison if convicted.

The man regularly visited the Golden Living Center in Watertown, showing up a few days a week with his dog. Four women reported to facility aides that the man had inappropriately tried to kiss them and touch their breasts. He told officers that his actions were merely “signs of affection,” and done in “affectionate fun.” At no time was he upset about being questioned by officers.

Elder abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins are currently reviewing and investigating potential cases of nursing home abuse, neglect and mistreatment. If you or a loved one was seriously injured at a nursing home through the negligence of its staff, contact our office immediately for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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