Caregiver pleads not guilty to stealing from elderly woman

Suspect: I was buying for my employer, not stealing from her

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A Fall River woman accused of stealing from the elderly woman she was paid to care for tells Eyewitness News she was making purchases on her employer’s behalf, not taking the money from her.

Kathleen King, 60, is charged with one count of larceny over $250 from a person over 60. Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn’s office said in 2013 King withdrew $120,000 from the checking and savings accounts of Margaret Jane Welsh, a city resident who is now 95. The DA’s office alleges King had been taking Welsh’s money and using it on personal expenses.

King faced a judge Tuesday morning for an arraignment after she was indicted by a grand jury last week. She pleaded not guilty. The judge ordered her to stay away from Welsh and released her on personal recognizance.

“I have a joint account with her that she okayed and she signed for,” King told Eyewitness News after the court appearance, denying the charge. “I paid people that took care of her.”

King said all of the money she took from Welsh’s accounts was spent on items for Welsh, not herself.

“Whatever she wanted, whatever she told me to do,” King said. “To buy a coffin for a cat that cost $400 dollars that sat on a table. I mean, things that you’d never believe.”

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn contradicts that story, telling Eyewitness News that King was using the money for personal expenses. He declined to elaborate on what those expenses were.

Quinn said the elderly are particularly vulnerable to theft, particularly when they need someone to have access to their accounts in order to assist them. He says Welsh has dementia, and King was doing the cooking, cleaning, shopping and other household duties for her.

This is one of the first cases prosecuted after Quinn’s office recently opened a unit dedicated to fighting financial fraud preying on the elderly. He says cases often go unreported, particularly if the suspect is a family member or if the elderly person is in poor health and unable to check their accounts.

“The more vulnerable the individual, the more isolated, and obviously the more money that’s involved just makes it more egregious,” Quinn said. He added that a court-appointed guardian was now caring for Welsh.

King said she’d been caring for Welsh for nine years and they have a close relationship. She said she left the job after questions arose about the finances. DA Quinn says an agency reported the questionable financial transactions to his office.

“I gave her my heart and my soul, and everything else,” King said.