Charges: Ex-wife stole from former detective with Alzheimer's

TACOMA, Wash. -- Police say a thief targeted the bank account of a former Tacoma police detective who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

To make matters worse, the suspect is his ex-wife, herself a former Tacoma police officer. Rhoda Ramirez is charged with 15 counts of identity theft in the case involving Ron Lewis.

"Here we have a retired detective, someone who you would imagine would know all of the scams and yet, because of his vulnerabilities, was scammed," said Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "It can happen to anybody."

Charging papers say the crime happened at Lewis's Lakewood home. His former wife, Ramirez, had moved back in with him after early onset Alzheimer's forced him into retirement at age 56. Investigators say Ramirez began raiding Lewis's bank accounts for her own benefit.

"When confronted, Rhoda claimed that Ronald was fully aware and authorized every check she wrote. Her claim, of course, is inconsistent with the fact that Ronald has mental deficiencies given his Alzheimer's," the charging papers read.

"She had authority to write checks for his expenses, but she went well beyond that writing checks to herself, to the IRS for herself and to one of her ex-boyfriends," said Lindquist.

The situation came to light when Lewis went to the TAPCO Credit Union to find out why money was missing. According to court documents, the clerks told investigators, "Ronald was reportedly very upset about the status of his finances, down from $30,000 to $400, and left the bank in tears"

What prosecutors find really disturbing is the allegation that Ramirez wasn't getting her ex-husband's medications for him.

"There's evidence that she was withholding some of the medication that affects his memory, making him more vulnerable," Lindquist said.

Ramirez wasn't arrested, but she'll get a summons to appear in court where the former Tacoma police officer will find herself in the unusual position of facing a judge with serious charges.

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