St. George caretaker arrested after allegedly taking $200K from elderly man

Tara Lynn Hamilton. Photo Courtesy: Washington County Jail

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Oct. 14, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A St. George woman was arrested Thursday after allegedly taking more than $200,000 from an elderly disabled man she was caring for.

A probable cause statement from the 5th District Court of St. George said Tara Lynn Hamilton, 35, is facing a charge of exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a second-degree felony.

The arresting officer wrote in the probable cause statement he was assigned to investigate a report of exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Employees from Adult Protective Services had reported the vulnerable adult was the victim of an alleged fraud perpetrated by his caretaker, Hamilton. The information from APS indicated that between 2018 and 2019, Tara had taken more than $200,000 from the victim.

“The victim is an 82-year-old male with a physical impairment prohibiting him from being able to use his arms,” the statement said. “The impairment substantially affects the victim’s ability to provide necessities, carry out activities of daily living, and his ability to obtain necessary services.”

Hamilton was his caretaker, and provided for his daily living needs, the statement said, and the victim paid her for care rendered.

An audit was completed by APS, which showed that between Feb. 17, 2019 and July 11, 2019, there were 17 checks totaling $57,800 made out to Hamilton. Additional checks had been made out to her boyfriend and her son. The total of checks made out to Hamilton and her associates was $110,270.

The accounts also showed multiple ATM withdrawals which appeared suspicious. A total of $67,224.61 had been withdrawn from two accounts belonging to the victim between July 2018 and February 2019. There were also transactions which showed cash back had been obtained from retailers. The total cash back was $7,129.36. There were also account transfers showing $15,950 transferred from the victim’s account into an account for Hamilton’s son.

The total calculated loss for the checks issued to Hamilton and her associates, the ATM withdrawals and associated fees, the cash back purchases and account transfers was $203,104.97.

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“In prior contacts with APS investigators, the victim had indicated that Tara was responsible for his financial transactions and he did not have much knowledge regarding his finances,” the statement said. “I interviewed Tara and she said she had a contract with the victim to provide care where she would be paid $12,000 per month, or $124,000 per year to provide 24/7 live-in care for him. This amount was supposed to be used by Tara to pay other caretakers when she was not at the house providing care.”

Hamilton said that she had a card issued to her for the victim’s account. She also admitted to making withdrawals, writing checks, and getting cash back on purchases using the accounts. She claimed the money was compensation for what the victim owed her for care. She also admitted to making cash back purchases and withdrawals on the account in other states when the victim was not present.

Hamilton also addressed the checks made out to her son and boyfriend, and the account transfers into her son’s account, the statement said. She indicated that she did not have a checking account, and she had filled out the checks to her boyfriend so he could cash them for her. She also said he was compensated for the care he provided to the victim. She also said she had transferred funds into her son’s account to compensate herself for care.

“By Tara’s admission, she was supposed to be compensated at the rate of $124,00 per year,” the statement said. “Over a period of seven months, the victim had a loss of over $200,000. Tara acknowledged the methods used to withdraw the money and indicated that she had facilitated and benefited from them. There is a large discrepancy between the amount received by Tara and her associates and the amount she indicated the victim had agreed to pay her.”

Hamilton was transported to Washington County Jail with her bail set at $50,000. The felony was committed while Hamilton was on probation or parole.

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