For release on February 4, 2014
CONTACT: Cherie Bourlard, Deputy District Attorney
Elder Fraud Unit
CAREGIVER STEALS FROM CLIENTS… AGAIN
A South Bay caregiver was sentenced this week to jail for stealing tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and other valuables from her elderly clients.
When she was arrested late last year, Monica Gonzalez, 43, of Morgan Hill, was still on probation for stealing from another client, just months earlier.
Gonzalez was convicted of Residential Burglary and Theft from an Elder, both felonies. The Hon. Edward Lee sentenced her to 10 months in the county jail and restitution as a condition of her 5-year probation. Gonzalez’s care-giving agencies, which were insured and bonded, reimbursed their clients. Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard of the Elder Fraud Unit, said: “It is better to hire a caregiver through a licensed and bonded agency, although there is no assurance that the employee will not commit theft. As you can see, this one slipped through the cracks. Always guard your valuables.” On October 3, 2013, an 88-year-old woman’s son reported to the Gilroy Police Department that his mother had noticed some of her heirloom jewelry worth $1,550 was missing. Gonzalez had been recently hired by the son through a care-giving agency to do light housekeeping for his mother. Evidence showed that Gonzalez stole the items. A Gilroy PD investigation revealed that an elderly couple in the same neighborhood was approached by Gonzalez around the same time to do some light housekeeping. The couple hired her directly, without the aid of a care-giving agency. Shortly after starting work for the couple, they realized $20,000 of their valuables was missing. When confronted by the couple, Gonzalez returned some of the items, including an electronic tablet – now broken and containing photographs of their former housekeeper and her family. After being arrested, she paid back the victims $10,000 and has now been ordered by the judge to pay back the rest.
In January last year, Gonzalez was convicted in Santa Clara County of stealing from another client while working for a different care agency. In that case she stole about $1,800 worth of jewelry and sold it to a pawn shop. By the time the pawn shop was contacted, the jewelry had been sold and/or melted down.
Some tips to protect you against caregiver theft:
- It’s better to hire from a bonded and insured licensed agency.
- The agency may be liable for their employee’s theft.
- If the care agency professes to do “complete background checks” on their employees, ask what that entails and how often it is done.