Elder Home Caregivers Charged With Defrauding 91-Year-Old Homebound Victim

A 72-count indictment charging Margaret Arlene Gastelum, 59, of San Manuel, Ariz. and Mona Lisa Rodriguez, 36, of Tucson, Ariz., with an eldercare fraud scheme, on Oct. 31, 2018.

The indictment charged both defendants with conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 16, 2018.

The indictment alleges that Gastelum and Rodriguez provided home care assistance for a 91-year-old victim from 2015 through 2017. The defendants gained access to the victim’s banking information and fraudulently transferred/and or used funds from the victim’s bank accounts. Additionally, the defendants fraudulently used the victim’s credit cards and obtained credit cards without the victim’s full knowledge and consent. The indictment also alleges that the defendants overcharged the victim for the services without the victim’s knowledge. As a result of the defendants’ scheme to defraud, the victim suffered a loss of approximately $184,000.

A conviction for the charged conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. A conviction for bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of thirty years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine, or both. A conviction for wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. A conviction for aggravated identity theft carries a minimum mandatory sentence of two years in prison that must be served consecutively to the ultimate sentence imposed relating to the other charges in this case.

An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the United States Secret Service and the Tucson Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson.