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December 17, 2013

Caretaker enters guilty plea in case of embezzlement

TRAVERSE CITY — A Leland Township woman pleaded guilty to stealing from a senior citizen in her care, said Leelanau County Prosecutor Joe Hubbell.

Carolyn Flees, 59, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of embezzlement of $200 to $1,000 from a vulnerable adult, Hubbell said. She also agreed to pay the victim’s family $30,000 in restitution.

“We’re happy not to have to take the case to the trial,” Hubbell said, adding the guilty plea to a reduced charge was negotiated with approval from the victim’s family members.

Flees took care of the victim, 85, for seven years. The victim’s bank contacted Leelanau County detectives and Adult Protective Services after money was missing from his account.

An investigation revealed more than $40,000 was embezzled from the victim between January 2010 and August 2012, said Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich. The victim is considered a vulnerable adult because of his limited mental state and recall abilities, Borkovich said. Investigators couldn’t tell whether Flees asked for the money or the victim offered it.

“At his age and with his health circumstances, he was not capable of making his own financial decisions and he would be a vulnerable adult,” Borkovich said.

Flees will be sentenced Jan. 17.

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