New Jersey Woman Guilty of Money Laundering and Elder Fraud

Money handing on clothes line"A portion of the money was used to fund the victim's expenses to keep the victim unaware of the thefts."

A New Jersey woman pleaded guilty to money laundering for her involvement in a scheme with her sister and an attorney to steal millions of dollars from elderly clients of an in-home senior care company.

The story was reported by New Jersey 101.5 in "NJ woman pleads guilty to scamming millions of dollars from the elderly."

A New Jersey State Police investigation led to the indictment of Sondra Steen along with her sister Jan Van Holt. The latter was the owner of a company that offered elderly clients in-home care and legal financial planning. Two other employees pleaded guilty to taking part in the scheme and stealing $125,000 from an elderly couple. Van Holt and Steen were charged with conspiring with a lawyer to steal over $2.7 million from 12 elderly clients.

Van Holt would target potential elderly clients who were known to have substantial assets with no immediate family. They would be offered help through the company with non-medical services such as running errands, managing finances, getting to appointments, and housework. Steen would then serve as the client's primary caregiver.

When they had gained the trust of these elderly clients, they would take control of their finances and add their names to bank accounts by forging power of attorney documents or using false pretenses to obtain control. They then stole from the accounts to pay their own expenses. If the victim owned stocks or bonds, they were cashed out and the funds were deposited into the account allegedly controlled by the defendants. The defendants would also name themselves as executors of the wills and then name Steen as a beneficiary. Authorities began investigating the alleged laundering after the state Office of the Public Guardian referred a case involving one of the victims to the State Police.

Under a plea agreement, Steen pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering. Prosecutors are recommending a 10-year prison sentence as well as making restitution.

Reference: New Jersey 101.5 (February 9, 2016) "NJ woman pleads guilty to scamming millions of dollars from the elderly"

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