A Dania Beach woman was ordered held on $10,000 bond Wednesday after she was arrested for allegedly taking expensive paintings from a legally blind man that she cared for – including one worth up to $35,000 – and selling them.
The most valuable work, by the artist Victor Vasarely, is worth between $30,000 and $35,000, a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report said.
Maureen Stuteville, 46, appeared in court remotely via video before Broward Circuit Judge John Hurley. She faces a charge of exploitation of a disabled elderly adult for between $20,000 and under $100,000, the arrest report said. Hurley found probable cause for the charge.
Stuteville was being held at the North Broward Bureau and it wasn’t immediately known whether she has an attorney.
Stuteville was arrested Tuesday at the Dania Beach residence she shared with Gilbert Jackson, 67, the arrest report said.
Sometime between Dec. 1 and Dec. 12, Jackson discovered that his expensive Victor Vasarely painting was missing from his living room. When he asked Stuteville about it, she said the painting was somewhere in Boca and later said it was at an art gallery, the arrest report said.
Days later Jackson asked to get his painting back, and Stuteville told him he would have to give her $3,000 and an automobile before she would return the painting, according to the report.
After Gilbert’s friends discovered an invoice to an antique gallery in Dania Beach, Stuteville admitted to a family friend that she sold the Vasarely work, among other expensive paintings and sculptures that Gilbert owned, according to the report. She sold one painting for $11,000, the report added.
The BSO tracked the items to the undisclosed antique gallery in Dania Beach. The owner acknowledged buying the items, among other things, and said that Stuteville came in almost once per week to sell items she said belonged to her and her adoptive father, the report said. She said she needed the money to put her adoptive father in a retirement home, and said she had cancer of the mouth and needed money for medical expenses, according to the report.
The gallery owner said he did not know that the items were stolen, the report said.
The victim, Jackson, has been diagnosed as legally blind, and cannot drive because he has lost most of his vision. He said he has known Stuteville for about three years and had a business relationship with her in which she could live at his home in exchange for driving him to do grocery shopping and to doctor’s appointments.
Jackson said he never gave his caretaker permission to take or sell his property, and never gave her permission to access his bank account, the report said.
Stuteville has no criminal record, Hurley said.
She told the judge that she is retired after working as a secretary in special education for 17 years.
Her sister appeared in court, telling the judge as the hearing was getting underway, “My heart’s going like 90 miles per hour.”
Later Hurley mentioned how Stuteville’s actions weren’t isolated to one alleged incident, and said it looks like she took multiple items from Gilbert.
“He asked me to sell them. He asked me. I have witnesses,” Stuteville said.
Hurley ordered her not to have any contact with Jackson, or to go into a pawn shop or an antique shop.