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June 25, 2022

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Lawsuit: State enabled ex-con to steal from B.G. woman, 81

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The guardian of a Battle Ground woman has sued the state for nearly $500,000, claiming that an Adult Protective Services caseworker enabled an ex-convict to financially exploit the woman.

Max Horn, a caseworker with Adult Protective Services, initiated an investigation in May 2011 into a report that then-81-year-old Jacqueline Grey could no longer take care of herself. Horn found that Grey was unable to care for herself and met the legal definition of a vulnerable adult.

The following month, Horn assisted Grey in completing a Medicaid application and arranged to have Grey moved from her home in Battle Ground to an assisted living community in the same town. Horn also arranged for M. Charlene White, the girlfriend of Grey’s son, to take control of Grey’s finances under a durable power of attorney, the lawsuit claims.

Horn allegedly knew that White recently had been released from prison but failed to investigate details of White’s background, which would have revealed that White had been convicted in 2007 of six counts of securities fraud in King County. White was sentenced to 43 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution, according to court records.

Over the course of several months, White allegedly stole more than $117,000 from Grey, the lawsuit states.

“When the family discovered Ms. White had used that power of attorney to financially exploit Jackie, they then petitioned to have Beagle, Burke & Associates (of Washington) appointed as her guardian,” said attorney Larry Wagner, whose firm is handling the lawsuit. “BBA did an extensive investigation and determined the extent of the financial exploitation.”

The lawsuit seeks compensation for the stolen money, attorney’s fees of $72,859 related to Grey’s guardianship case and non-economic damages of at least $300,000. It was filed Friday in Clark County Superior Court by Baumgartner, Nelson & Wagner of Vancouver. A spokesperson with the state Department of Social and Health Services was not immediately available Wednesday for comment on the lawsuit.

White, 58, has been charged with first-degree theft, second-degree theft, first-degree attempted theft, attempted money laundering and attempted false statement or fraud regarding medical assistance in connection with the alleged thefts. Her trial is scheduled for Jan. 12.

Prosecutors accuse White of stealing more than $125,000 from Grey. That amount is greater than what was identified in the lawsuit.

Forensic accountant Brad McLean of Beagle, Burke & Associates of Washington found that White had written four cashier’s checks, totaling $107,000, to her aunt in California in July and August 2011, according to a court affidavit. White allegedly made payments totaling $18,910 to family members and friends for various “services,” which were not for the benefit of Grey. She transferred 40 percent interest in Grey’s house to herself and gave Grey’s vehicle to a friend in exchange for work at Grey’s home, but there was no record of any work done at the home, according to court documents.

When she applied for Medicaid benefits for Grey, White didn’t list the house as one of Grey’s assets, as required by law, court documents say. As a result, Grey was approved for Medicaid benefits, even though she didn’t qualify. White removed all of Grey’s belongings from the house and allowed White’s daughter and others to live in the house without paying rent, court documents say.

Grey’s house in Battle Ground sold for $270,000 last month, according to Clark County property records.

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