Two East Palo Alto women were sentenced Thursday, March 8, to 11 months in jail and 5 years probation for defrauding an 82-year-old woman, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced Friday.
Selu Mataele, 30, and Ane Pailate, 55, were convicted of felony charges of theft from an elder in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The victim hired Mataele as a daytime caregiver through a private care agency after returning home from the hospital, and later hired Mataele privately away from the care agency, the DA's office said. Pailate, who is Mataele's aunt, was also hired as a caregiver for extra help.
A few years later, the victim's daughter was reconciling the elder woman's check book and became suspicious. The victim was writing checks for greater amounts than owed the two caregivers. The victim had signed blank checks and told Mataele and Pailate to write in the amounts they were owed. But the defendants took advantage of the trusting relationship and penned in exorbitant amounts, the DA's office said.
The daughter initially reported to the police that she believed the overage amount was about $10,000. After the district attorney's office obtained all of the victim's records, the loss was actually $171,256, which accrued over an approximately three-year period.
The criminal charges were the result of an investigation by the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Elder Financial Abuse Unit.
Mataele has so far repaid $20,000 and Pailate has repaid $6,000 to the victim. As a part of the terms of their probation, the women were ordered to pay the remaining restitution.