It took six jurors less than an hour Wednesday night to find a Harvey man guilty of bilking a woman with Alzheimer's disease out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaving her to die with nothing to her name.
Paul Juarez, 72, was convicted on one count of exploitation of a person with infirmities for assuming legal control of the finances of Marjorie Blake, of Terrytown, and spending more than $800,000 of her money on dubious expenses over a six-year period, Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick's Office said.
Blake, a retired nurse and divorcée from North Carolina who had no children, died in March 2014 at age 85.
"She died penniless and alone," Assistant District Attorney Lynn Schiffman, who prosecuted Juarez with Assistant District Attorney Johnny Carr, told jurors.
Juarez knew Blake through their West Bank church. After Blake was medically deemed unable to make decisions for herself due to Alzheimer's in 2008, Juarez assumed power of attorney for her, Connick's office said.
Testimony showed that in 2010 Juarez transferred more than $300,000 from Blake's bank to his own without explanation, and he also made himself and his wife the exclusive beneficiaries to Blake's life insurance policy. Prosecutors said he used her money to pay a tax bill in Florida, in a county where his wife owned a business.
Juarez refused to allow Ms. Blake's closest relative, a niece who lives in North Carolina, to even visit her aunt, Connick's office said. The niece, who was named in Blake's will, contacted her attorney, who contacted Jefferson Parish authorities, leading to Juarez's arrest.
Juarez denied exploiting Ms. Blake. His attorney argued that Ms. Blake made arrangement with Juarez to tend to her own care, and that he was carrying out her wishes, Connick's office said.
Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court is presiding over the case. There has not been a date set for sentencing.
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