Stephen Gibbons, Assistant District Attorney   CONTACT PERSON:
Cindy Seeley Hendrickson, Deputy District Attorney
(408) 792-2551   For release on July 9, 2004     CAREGIVER SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS STATE PRISON FOR EMBEZZLING OVER $100,000.00 FROM WORLD WAR II VETERAN   On Thursday, July 8, 2004 the Honorable Rise Jones Pichon sentenced Annie Marie Steward, 48, of San Jose to two years state prison for embezzling over $100,000.00 from Joe Lopez, now 81, a World War II veteran suffering from Alzheimer’s whom Ms. Steward had cared for since 1999.    Mr. Lopez, formerly a very active member of the GI Forum, had known Ms. Steward for many years prior to January 1999, when Mr. Lopez became unable to live alone as a result of dementia, later diagnosed as Alzheimer’s, and moved in with Ms. Steward.  Within a month, Ms. Steward obtained Power of Attorney over Mr. Lopez and caused her name to be placed on Mr. Lopez’ bank accounts.   The matter came to the attention of the Santa Clara County Financial Abuse Specialist Team, a multi-agency task force charged with investigating instances of suspected financial abuse against seniors, in the Spring of 2002 after Ms. Steward was arrested for misdemeanor elder physical abuse against Mr. Lopez.  Due to Mr. Lopez’ inability to care for himself, the Public Guardian’s Office obtained a temporary conservatorship over Mr. Lopez in April 2002.  The Public Guardian’s office became suspicious after it learned that Mr. Lopez had sold a condominium in December 2001, but none of the proceeds could be located.    The District Attorney’s Office initiated a criminal investigation and eventually determined that Ms. Steward had misappropriated over $161,000.00 of Mr. Lopez’ assets.  The Public Guardian’s Office determined that the sum of approximately $225,000.00 was never properly accounted for by Ms. Steward, and Judge Thomas Edwards earlier this year granted the Public Guardian’s request for a judgment against Annie Marie Steward in the amount of $225,088.79.    ###

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