There’s no disputing that the elderly Lakewood man with dementia gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a woman fifty years his junior.
Madonna Page, 36, told authorities that she “takes care of him and he takes care of her,” according to court records. She said there was no romantic relationship, she just cooks and cleans for him. After all, she had an 81-year-old husband of her own.
The 86-year-old man, who lived alone after his wife was placed in an adult family home and suffers from a litany of serious health problems, told investigators having a girlfriend was expensive.
Now, Pierce County prosecutors have charged Page with six counts of first-degree theft and two counts of second-degree theft, arguing that she swindled more than $326,000 from the victim. A vulnerable adult protection order bars Page from coming near the victim and orders her to return all of his property to an attorney’s office.
Page has not been arraigned on the charges. Her attorney has not returned a call for comment.
An anonymous tip in August 2011 sent a worker from Adult Protection Services to the victim’s home, where Page was then living. It’s unclear how the two met but prosecutors said they became acquainted in 2009. Their relationship grabbed attention from the neighbors, who told investigators Page came and went at all hours of the night and referred to the victim as “honey” on occasion.
Concern rose when investigators found that the victim, a former public accountant usually conservative with his money, had withdrawn nearly $100,000 from his bank account within two months.
“When questioned about his finances, (the victim) acted surprised at the amount of money believed to be missing,” according to charging papers.
Page allegedly tried to soothe the victim’s anxiety by assuring him there was enough money to care for him and his wife, pointing out that she writes the check each month for his wife’s 24-hour care. She also allegedly reminded him that he forgot things, including the amount of money he gave her.
Court records contend Page accompanied the victim on an appointment to speak with his wife’s physician and asked the doctor to write a letter about the wife’s severe dementia so the victim could get a reverse mortgage on his home.
“At one point, Madonna even accompanied (the victim) to his attorney’s office where he attempted to change his will to name her as a beneficiary,” according to charging papers.
The attorney refused to do so, citing the victim’s diminished capacity.
Once a protection order was in place and investigators began inspecting the victim’s bank records, they found a bank account opened in October 2011 for Page. Within a month, the victim deposited more than $99,000 into the account after cashing in his life insurance policy. Page allegedly spent about $112,000 of the money in four months at clothing stores, nail salons and a gynecology office.
Investigators also found 27 instances of Page gambling at local casinos, allegedly spending more than $11,000 of the victim’s money.
Prosecutors said more charges could be filed if the case goes to trial.