Former operator of care facilities pleads guilty to embezzlement - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Former operator of care facilities pleads guilty to stealing nearly $800K from elderly victims

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The operator of several San Diego County residential care facilities who stole nearly $800,000 from three people pleaded guilty Thursday a single count of felony elder abuse.

Maria Corazon Park, 54, will be sentenced to three years in prison at a hearing May 2.

According to prosecutors, Park embezzled nearly $665,000 from the bank accounts of two men shortly before and after their deaths and stole $130,000 from a 79-year-old South Bay woman.

Park's company provided in-home care for the woman, and the defendant -- after learning the victim had monetary assets -- got power of attorney and withdrew $130,000 from the victim's bank account, said Deputy Attorney General Carlos Chavarria.

Park -- who had a license to operate two care centers in Chula Vista and one in El Cajon -- also endeared herself to Fred Figueroa and George Vickey in order to get access to their money, the prosecutor said at an earlier hearing.

Retired Department of Social Services Investigator Fausto Aguilar testified at a preliminary hearing in January that the defendant told him in 2008 that Figueroa wanted her to have all his assets after he died.

Aguilar said Park showed him a power of attorney for Figueroa when he called her in for a meeting while investigating the case.

Park said she withdrew money from Figueroa's bank account to pay for funeral costs and final care at her residential care center, according to court testimony.

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 fraud and authorities became aware that Figueroa had died in 2008 at the age of 91, prosecutors said.

An investigation into other accounts involving Park found that she been added as trustee to accounts belonging to Vickey, who died in 2005 at the age of 89, according to the prosecution.

Park embezzled $579,000 from Vickey's accounts, Chavarria said.

The California Department of Social Services shut down Park's three centers in December and relocated most residents, according to the prosecutor.

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