A caretaker stole over $35,000 from a 75-year-old North Miami Beach woman during the 10 months she helped her with day-to-day errands, making ATM withdrawals from various locales that included casinos in Broward County, police said Wednesday.
Olga Hidalgo-Gato, 46, of Hollywood has been charged with exploitation of the elderly and grand theft on a victim over 65, both second-degree felonies, North Miami Beach Police said as they announced her arrest.
They said she swiped thousands from the victim’s life savings and monthly Social Security payments, and even cashed out a $26,000 reverse mortgage on the elderly woman’s home on the 1600 block of NE 157th Terrace in North Miami Beach, leaving her “in jeopardy of losing her longtime family home.”
Hidalgo-Gato wrote herself checks from the bank account of the victim, who she started assisting in October 2010 with such tasks as grocery shopping, bill paying, and driving to doctor’s appointments, police said.
The 75-year-old woman, who came here from Cuba 40 years ago, owned an adult living facility in her home and “spent her life taking good care of the elderly,” police said.
Hidalgo-Gato, a longtime family friend of the woman, is also from Cuba, police said.
When a detective confronted Hidalgo-Gato, she maintained that she had not taken any money and that all the withdrawals “were for legitimate reasons, and at the request of the elderly woman,” police said.
The detective built his case on the victim’s statements about unauthorized withdrawals and checks, and on surveillance video that showed Hidalgo-Gato withdrawing the victim’s money at various places without her present, police added.
Hidalgo-Gato was arrested last Thursday and is due to have a pretrial hearing March 9 in downtown Miami, according to court records.