Woman charged with stealing $423,000 from elderly uncle

TACOMA, Wash. -- A woman is in jail after allegedly stealing more than $420,000 from her 96-year-old uncle while he suffered from Alzheimer's and dementia.

The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office charged Betsey Cammon, 54, with 34 counts of theft, a crime she initially blamed on threats and extortion from an unknown person.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, Cammon was given power of attorney for her uncle in 1998. But, that would only go into effect once he was no longer able to make his own decisions regarding his financial affairs.

In May 2007, Cammon was added to her uncle's bank accounts. He was admitted to a nursing home two years later.

In March 2009, Cammon's power of attorney was finally activated when a doctor found her uncle could no longer manage his affairs. At that point, Cammon had already withdrawn nearly $200,000 from his bank accounts, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Cammon failed to pay her uncle's nursing home bill in 2010. Rainier Guardianship Services took over guardianship of Cammon's uncle in May of that year and needed to liquidate his assets to pay his living expenses because his accounts had been almost completed depleted, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Cammon's uncle died four months later, and his nephew was appointed as his personal representative, finding a number of discrepancies in his uncle's accounts.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, Cammon promised to produce information and an explanation for the missing funds. She didn't, later claiming she was threatened and extorted for the money by an unknown person.

A family member finally reported the situation to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office in April 2012. According to the Prosecutor's Office, an investigation showed Cammon withdrew $423,120.75 from her uncle's accounts and gifted another $49,450 to her friends.

She used some of the money to pay property taxes on two homes she owns with her boyfriend, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Cammon is being held on $25,000 bail and may still face additional charges.

"Our Elder Fraud team vigorously prosecutes cases of elder fraud and theft," Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a press release. "We encourage family and friends of elder victims to come forward and report these crimes against some of the most vulnerable members of our community."