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UPDATE: Woman Accused of Elder Theft in Healdsburg Offered Plea Deal

22-year-old woman accused of stealing close to $6,000 from 86-year-old man.

UPDATE, 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012.

Former Healdsburg Senior Living staff member Lillian Mbua has been offered a plea deal in connection with her arrest on suspicion of elder theft, the Press Democrat is reporting.

The newspaper said Sonoma County prosecutors are recommending a non-jail  sentence of a maximum of 90 days if she pleads guilty to theft, repays the money and does not work with senior citizens. The article adds that Mbua is scheduled to enter a plea on Tuesday in Sonoma County Superior Court.

To read the article, click here.

UPDATE, 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.

Lillian Mbua, a former staff aide at Healdsburg Senior Living community, was released on her own recognizance on Nov. 27 from Sonoma County Jail, jail staff confirmed. That was 11 days after her Nov. 16 arrest, when she was booked on felony theft and burglary charges and held on $100,000 bail.

No further information was immediately available on the terms of her release or her schedule of court appearances.

ORIGINAL STORY, 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.

A 22-year-old Santa Rosa woman will face charges of felony theft from the elderly and felony burglary after Healdsburg Police arrested her for allegedly stealing and cashing $6,000 worth of checks from an 86-year-old resident of the Healdsburg Senior Living community on Grove Street.

Lillian Mbua, a former staff aide at the Healdsburg elderly care community, was released on her own recognizance Nov. 27 from Sonoma County Jail.

Mbua was booked into the jail Nov. 16 after her arrest by Healdsburg Police Sgt. Nick Castaneda following a four-month investigation and fugitive search. She was held on $100,000 bail, Castaneda said.

"We finally found her," he added. Castaneda said Mbua was arrested on her way to a new job at an elderly care facility in Santa Rosa. At the time of her arrest, Mbua was carrying more checks from the 86-year-old Healdsburg resident's account, he added.

"We believe she walked into the victim's room and stole his checkbook," Castaneda said.

Castaneda, who pursued Mbua for four months before finally locating her last month through her Social Security number and state Employment Development Department records, said he has handed the case over to the Sonoma County District Attorney's office for prosecution.

Castaneda said during his investigation, he found video footage of Mbua at "multiple" Wells Fargo Bank branches throughout Vallejo and Santa Rosa cashing checks from the elderly Healdsburg Senior Living resident.

The amount of the checks totalled approximately $6,000, he said.

Castaneda said the case began on Aug. 13, when one of the Wells Fargo branches in Santa Rosa declined to cash a check presented by Mbua that had the name of the elderly resident on it. The bank then sent out an alert to Healdsburg Senior Living officials, Castaneda said.

"The signatures didn't match," he said. Healdsburg Senior Living immediately fired Mbua, and then contacted Healdsburg police.

Castaneda said he tried to follow up on the case, but Mbua had apparently disappeared.

"I met with the bank, and secured a search warrant," he said. "I tried to get hold of the suspect, but didn't find her for three months."

The break apparently came when Mbua had applied for a new job in a different elderly care facility through the state EDD office.

"Her employment license to work in any kind of senior or eldery facility has been cancelled," Casteneda said.

He said Mbua could face up to a year in prison if she is found guilty of the charges.

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Gary December 07, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Why didn't the facility contact the Police Department BEFORE they fired her? That probably would have avoided a "four month investigation".
zoe moire December 07, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Totally agree ! Geez. Ya think they would have known better. Where and who is managing this place? Well, better check the other residents for thefts of items, cash, etc. Did someone "lose" their wedding ring?
Gary December 07, 2012 at 05:14 AM
A few years ago California imposed stringent laws to prevent caregivers from taking advantage of our elderly family in situations like thus. When found she was still in possession of more blank checks even after absconding already with $6000. booked and bail set at $100000...released WITHOUT ANY bail a week or so later. Where are our officials at who are supposed to protect those dependent and punish those who violate our laws again against caregivers in a duty of trust.?
Keri Brenner (Editor) December 07, 2012 at 07:07 AM
I hope we will get some clarity on this shortly. Not clear at the moment. Thanks Gary for asking the questions.
Rey December 07, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Where is the accountability of the owners of the care home? There must be some government guidelines and regulations when licensing owners of care homes. Are their workers not bonded? If not, then it seems to me anybody can just work in this field including uncaring and unsuspecting thieves!
Gary December 26, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Could there please be a update.
Keri Brenner (Editor) December 26, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Yes, we plan to update after New Year's when county courts are in business again.
Keri Brenner (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Updated today: http://patch.com/A-0QmC

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