An 89-year-old woman is accused of bilking more than $253,000 from a long-time friend of hers who is suffering from dementia, police said.
Authorities said Frances Graves, who is jailed on $500,000 bail, was assisted in her crimes by Sarah Sheldon, 38, who has been arrested more than 20 times during the last 18 years, according to jail records. Sheldon is being held at the Volusia County Branch Jail on $270,000 bail.
Holly Hill police responded the morning of Feb. 22, 2018 to a home on Cordova Avenue, where 89-year-old Betty Reese, lives, according to an arrest report. That's where police were met with an investigator from the Florida Department of Children and Families, who told them Reese had missed a doctor's appointment that day.
Reese, according to police, has a diminished mental capacity and can't care for herself. The DCF investigator was concerned she was being exploited by her caregiver, who was identified as Sheldon in the report.
Sheldon was staying in Reese's home and told police -- after they had knocked on the doors and windows for several minutes -- that she was adequately caring for the elderly woman.
"We've had run-ins with her before," Holly Hill Police Chief Steve Aldrich said of Sheldon, referring to her criminal history.
After more investigating, police were told that Reese, who had been moved to the Lakewood Retirement Center for more direct care, had a friend who had been "trying to obtain access to all of Ms. Reese's financial assets" for a while, according to the report. That friend was identified in the report as Graves.
A Holly Hill police detective interviewed Graves last April. The detective pointed out to her that Reese's account contained $130,000 in January 2017. By comparison, in March 2018, the same account contained $1,600. Graves told the detective that "a lot of things" happened to that money, but was evasive on specifics, the report stated.
The detective also showed Graves a stock account that showed a loss of about $124,000. Graves said she had transferred "quite a bit of money" out of the stock account into Reese's personal account, but police found no trace of it, they said.
"It was a lot of money stolen in a short amount of time," Aldrich said.
Graves also old police she had been paying Sheldon $70 per day to care for Reese, according to the report. During her interview, Graves also referred to DCF as "the Gestapo" and called them "mean," police said.
Sheldon, for her part, admitted during her subsequent police interview that she had forged Reese's signature on checks and used Reese's debit or credit card, the report stated.
Graves was charged with exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult and theft of $50,000 or more of a person 65 years or older and disabled. Sheldon was charged with forgery, fraudulent use of a credit card and exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult.
Graves is the daughter of the late Ernest Cassen, who served as Ormond Beach mayor from 1960 to 1976.