SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The operator of several residential care facilities claimed one of two elderly residents, from whom she allegedly embezzled nearly $665,000 shortly before and after their deaths, wanted to marry her and leave his assets to her, a retired state investigator testified Monday.
Maria Corazon Park, 54, is charged with financial elder abuse, forgery and other counts.
Authorities allege Park -- who is licensed to operate two care centers in Chula Vista and one in El Cajon -- endeared herself to 91-year-old Fred Figueroa and 89-year-old George Vickey in order to get access to their money.
At Park's preliminary hearing got under way Monday, retired Department of Social Services Investigator Fausto Aguilar testified that the defendant told him in 2008 that Figueroa wanted her to have all his assets after he died.
"She said, `He would have married me. He liked me,"' Aguilar testified.
Aguilar said Park showed him a power of attorney for Figueroa when he called her in for a meeting while investigating the case.
The now-retired investigator told defense attorney Elliot Kanter that Park said she withdrew money from Figueroa's bank account to pay for funeral costs and final care at her residential care center.
Park allegedly withdrew $83,000 from Figueroa's account in three transactions. When she tried to withdraw another $86,000 from the account, a suspicious Wells Fargo bank employee discovered the alleged fraud and authorities became aware that he had died.
An investigation into other accounts involving Park found that she been added as trustee to accounts belonging to Vickey, who died in 2005, according to the prosecution.
Authorities allege Park embezzled $579,000 from Vickey's accounts.
The California Department of Social Services temporarily shut down Park's three centers in December and relocated most residents.
At the end of the hearing, which is expected to resume on Friday afternoon, Judge Laura Parsky will determine if there is enough evidence to order Park to stand trial on 26 felony counts.
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