Caretaker of elderly LOP woman arrested on fraud, burglary charges
February 27, 2014
A woman who had been taking care of a 97-year-old Lake of the Pines resident was arrested at a Granite Bay bank Monday, reportedly as she tried to open an account using a forged check she had stolen from the woman.
"I have to give a lot of credit to the bank manager at Tri Counties Bank; she was really on the ball," said the woman's son, who is not being identified.
Katie Rae Duarte, 27, and her boyfriend, Christopher St. Charles, 30, were arrested after the son suspected they had stolen his mother's checks and went to her banks to close out her accounts.
The son said he had hired Duarte to watch his mother, whom he described as "very independent," a few times at her residence in the 11000 block of Lakeshore South.
On Feb. 23, Duarte was supposed to drive him to his job in Fair Oaks and then pick him back up that evening.
He said he became uneasy after Duarte showed up with St. Charles, who was not supposed to be allowed into Lake of the Pines. When he got to work, he said, he called security at the gated community and asked them to scratch both Duarte and St. Charles off the list of his approved visitors.
"She didn't show up at 6:30 to pick me up," he said, adding that he could not reach her on the phone and that he finally got home about 8:30 p.m.
When he did, he said, he found Duarte at the residence, loading her stuff into her truck. She reportedly told him she could not work for the family any more and that she was told not to pick him up.
After the son found his mother's jewelry box next to a wastebasket by the door, he called security and the Nevada County Sheriff's Office. At the time, however, he could not prove any theft because he did not know anything was missing.
The next morning, however, he realized that some of her coats were missing — including a mink — as well as her checks.
Monday, the woman and her son went to her banks to close out her accounts.
At the second bank, the Tri Counties branch on Combie Road, the manager noticed that there had been activity on the account that day.
"A $600 transaction had been canceled at the Granite Bay branch," the son said. "Apparently, (Duarte) showed up and tried to cash a forged check. When they said they couldn't cash it because she wasn't a customer, she decided to open an account. And she was still there."
Placer County Sheriff's deputies were contacted and arrested Duarte at the bank. They also arrested St. Charles, who reportedly was waiting in the parking lot in their vehicle, which contained stolen property.
Duarte apparently swallowed some suspected methamphetamine at the time of her arrest and was taken to the hospital, said Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal. She was subsequently booked into Placer County Jail on suspicion of burglary, possessing stolen property, using another person's identity, passing a fictitious check and possessing a controlled substance. She was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail.
St. Charles was booked on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, possessing stolen property and possessing a controlled substance and was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.
The victim's son said he was still compiling a list of stolen items, which included jewelry, and said that Duarte reportedly had items she had stolen from other people she had taken care of in her possession when she was arrested.
A Placer County Sheriff's spokeswoman did not return a call for comment as of press time.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.