Saturday, February 24, 2007

Prison Wife charged with Elder Abuse

A story of elder abuse began to unfold Tuesday when Katherine Garcia-Herzog appeared before Superior Court Judge Susan Harlan on charges that she took advantage of an 88-year-old Fiddletown woman.

Garcia-Herzog, who is 53 and no longer lives in Amador County, was arrested earlier this month in Santa Rosa and booked into the Sonoma County Jail on charges that she bilked Fiddletown resident Helen Thompson out of more than $25,000. The investigation is ongoing.

The case, laced with intrigue from the onset, came to the attention of Amador County Sheriff's Office investigators in June 2006. Authorities were alerted by a neighbor of Thompson, who called to voice concern over the woman's welfare.

Thompson's granddaughter, Elaine Hyatt, told the Ledger Dispatch that she now lives with her grandmother and expects to testify against Garcia-Herzog in order to see justice done.

Hyatt said that Garcia-Herzog came into contact with her grandparents in October 2004 prior to the death of Thompson's husband, Leon "Whitey" Thompson in June 2005. Leon Thompson gained notoriety as a survivor of Alcatraz, where he served time for bank robbery.

Garcia-Herzog's financial trails with Thompson's money have led investigators to several local financial institutions, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

Hyatt said the woman convinced her grandmother to take out a reverse mortgage with Garcia-Herzog's name on it and that $30,000 soon disappeared.

Hyatt said she believes her grandmother's loss is far greater than the $25,000 figure being used and is probably closer to $100,000.

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