From City News Service --
A 92-year-old woman's son and daughter-in-law stole about $360,000 from her, leaving her to live in a public assisted-living apartment in Fountain Valley, a prosecutor told jurors, but the defendants' attorney said the mother lost all of her money trying to pursue legal action against her daughter.
"This is a tragic story about a 92-year-old woman,'' Deputy District Attorney Doug Brannan said. "She came here with money she needed and her funds were depleted by her son and daughter-in-law and now she's broke.''
Delphine Garcia was living with her daughter, Carol Garcia-Segura, in Ventura, but when she felt her daughter was stealing from her she sought help from her son, Peter Garcia, 70, and his wife at the time, Virginia Kay Furr- Garcia, 50, Brannan said.
Peter Garcia and ex-wife Furr-Garcia are on trial for allegedly embezzling from Delphine Garcia. Each is charged with one felony count of grand theft, conspiracy to defraud another of property, conspiracy to commit forgery and theft from an elder.
Included in the charges are sentencing enhancements for a loss more than $200,000 and aggravated white collar crime more than $100,000. If convicted, they face up to six years in prison.
Delphine Garcia moved from Ventura to San Clemente in January 2009 after Garcia's daughter, Carol, sold Garcia's home, Brannan said. The victim lived in a private assisted-living building in San Clemente until May 2010, Brannan said.
When Delphine Garcia arrived in Orange County, she had four annuities she used for income, but they were cashed out and the money put into a joint account -- for an interior design business -- that Peter Garcia and his wife had access to, Brannan said.
Her annuities had a "steady cash flow'' that provided enough income to pay for $4,000-a-month in care, Brannan said. But in June 2010, Delphine Garcia was moved to a less expensive assisted-living home in Fountain Valley, Brannan said.
Delphine Garcia went to law enforcement authorities in March 2011 when she could no longer pay for her assisted-living bills. Peter Garcia, who is representing himself in the trial, did not make an opening statement, deferring to his ex-wife's attorney, Kimberly LaSalle.
When Delphine Garcia's husband grew ill, their daughter, Carol Garcia-Segura, moved from Nebraska to Ventura to live her in 2001, LaSalle said. In 2007, Garcia-Segura put the home on the market and the deed to the property in her name and that of her husband's, LaSalle said.
Delphine Garcia complained to her son that her daughter was taking her money, LaSalle said. Peter Garcia and his wife hired attorneys and other experts who warned them that it would be expensive to pursue legal action against Garcia-Segura, LaSalle said.
The "emotional cost'' of Peter Garcia's conflict with his sister was his 20-year marriage, which ended, he said.
"The goal always was to hold Carol accountable,'' LaSalle said.
Also weighing on the couple was Delphine Garcia's depression and accusations that she was not being cared for properly by the defendants, LaSalle said. An attorney Peter Garcia hired to pursue legal action against his sister later dropped the case and, shortly afterward, police began investigating, LaSalle said.
"The family has buckled from the stress,'' she said, adding that Peter Garcia had a "mini-stroke'' last year.
"They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees,'' trying to help the victim, LaSalle said. "All the money Del spent was because that's how she wanted to spend it.''