After a bad fall, 78-year-old Pauline Balseiro moved into Golden Creek Assisted Living owned by Maria Barbu. Within a month of moving in, Balseiro had signed over her Tatum Ranch home in north Phoenix to Barbu in exchange for "care-taking services." Barbu and her daughter moved in almost immediately and Balsiero returned in January.
Barbu was arrested in March on forgery charges after writing $2,500 worth of checks on Balseiro's accounts. The Arizona State Department of Health and Human Services had notified Barbu that her license would be revoked because of the financial exploitation of Balseiro. Barbu has since surrendered her license to run an assisted living facility. DHS noted that surrendering her license before it was revoked would give Barbu time to sell her assisted living business rather than it being shut down.
Abuse of vulnerable adults can come in many forms, including financial exploitation. Balseiro suffered from Parkinson's disease and had previously been flagged as also possibly suffering from Alzheimer's and/or Dementia. She was far from family - her daughter lived in California - and quite quickly gave up everything to a stranger who seemed willing to offer help.
Soon after moving into the assisted living facility, Balseiro's daughter and a Phoenix neighbor had trouble reaching Balseiro. They both noted that Balseiro's attitude toward them also changed after moving into the facility. Soon after being removed from Barbu's care, Balseiro was diagnosed with Dementia.
Barbu has offered to return Balseiro's house to her, but not until the 78-year-old woman pays her back for the $30,000 she spent renovating the home. Barbu claims she installed hard wood floors, a new dishwasher and new countertops.
Source: The Arizona Republic, "Woman, 78, is billed to get her home back," Laurie Roberts, June 5, 2012
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