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12/17/15 - Companion faces charges for stealing from 90 year-old woman

Media, Pa – Today Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced that a Nether Providence woman, who was hired as a companion, is facing theft charges for stealing more than $10,000 from a 90 year-old woman, resident of Plush Mills Senior Living Facility in Wallingford.

Marianne Smith, 53, of the 500 block of Maple Road, is charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition, receiving stolen property, theft by deception and false impression, all felonies of the third degree.  The arrest comes at the conclusion of an investigation conducted by Det. Edward Kazlo of the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Senior Exploitation Unit. The investigation began after Det. Kazlo was notified by the Nether Providence Police Department about a possible theft.

Approximately four years ago, Marianne Smith was hired as a companion for Tina Fright, 90, a resident of the Plush Mills Senior Living Facility. In May, Smith was given Tina Fright’s debit card and PIN number to pay herself and purchase items for Fright on an as need basis. Smith was given the debit card information by Rosemary Lavin, Power of Attorney and stand in Financial Power of Attorney for Fright’s nephew James Chapman, who resides in England.   Between May and July of this year, Lavin noticed $10,000 has been withdrawn from Fright’s account.  Concerned about the usual spending, Lavin asked for the debit card to be returned, but Smith ignored the request and continued to make withdraws. On August 2, Lavin cancelled the card and terminated Smith’s employment as a companion. 

During an interview, Marianne Smith told detectives that Tina Fright told her to take money to repair her car, put new windows on her house, repair he porch and take her family on vacation.  On October 30, Det. Kazlo and Det. John Hoffner interviewed Marianne Fright in the presence of Christina O’Rieley, Director of Nursing at Plush Mill Senior Facility. When asked about her relationship with Marianne Smith, Fright told detectives that she did not consider Smith a close friend. Detectives also inquired as to whether Fright, 90, gave Marianne Smith permission to do home repairs and go on vacation, at Fright’s expense. In response, she told them, “I may be up in age, but I’m not naïve.”

“Our seniors deserve to enjoy their retirement and hard-earned money without the fear of being victimized,” stated District Attorney Jack Whelan. “Marianne Smith stole that liberty, betraying the trust of the person she was hired to look after, stealing the victim’s money for her own leisure.”

Marianne Smith was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Deborah Krull and released on $10,000 unsecured bail.