SUNRISE, Fla. (CN) – A Fort Lauderdale man claims his 89-year-old mother’s home-care nurse drained her bank accounts of $215,000 and killed her when she found out. The nurse fled in the midst of the investigation and is nowhere to be found, the man’s attorney said.
Gary Uretsky claims that from November 2006 to the summer of 2008, home health aid Dina Taylor stole more than $215,000 from his ailing mother’s savings. He says that the morning after his mother discovered the theft, Taylor disconnected her oxygen tank and left the 89-pound wizened woman to die of asphyxiation.
In his wrongful death complaint in Broward County Court against Taylor’s employer, home-care provider Almost Family, Uretsky says he tried to visit his mother on the day she died, but Taylor refused to let him see her, claiming she was sleeping.
Taylor had never before been so insistent that Uretsky let his mother rest, Uretsky’s attorney, Randall Austin, said in an interview.
According to Uretsky’s 12-count complaint, Taylor “lied about elder Mrs. Uretsky being asleep to cover up for the fact that she had just moments earlier intentionally and with malice aforethought caused elder Mrs. Uretsky’s death.”
At the time, Uretsky “couldn’t imagine a crime so heinous,” Austin said.
Initial statements recorded by a Sunrise police officer indicate no suspicion of homicide. But as Uretsky pored over his mother’s accounts and unveiled the extent of the fraud, Taylor’s odd behavior that day revealed itself in a more sinister light, Austin said.
According to the complaint, Uretsky found that 37 forged checks and a series of fraudulent withdrawals totaling $215,000 had wiped out his mother’s savings. Fifty thousand dollars worth of jewelry and gems was missing, and $18,000 had been charged on his mother’s credit cards, the complaint states.
In April 2009, Sunrise police detectives met with the state attorney’s office to pursue charges of elderly exploitation and theft, according to a police report. Taylor disappeared before an indictment was issued.
“They lost her,” Austin said.
Austin said he suspects that other nurses with Almost Family colluded with Taylor to perpetrate the fraud.
Austin said that while he has not fully investigated Taylor’s history, he has “more than enough evidence” to pursue a case against Almost Family for negligent hiring and supervision.
According to the complaint, Uretsky’s mother had long harbored apprehensions about Taylor’s character, and Uretsky requested on several occasions that Almost Family replace her with another nurse. Almost Family did not comply, Uretsky says.
“Almost Family could have prevented this depraved act of murder,” the complaint states.
Uretsky claims the home-care provider is liable for “multiple tortious acts, including … homicide, elder abuse, gross negligence, and multiple thefts.”
Representatives for Almost Family did not return phone calls.