Nursing Home Caregivers Charged with Financial Exploitation of Elderly Resident

Grace Watanabe is a 98-year-old woman who had her life savings robbed of her by two former nursing home caregivers employed at Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park, located at 2437 N. Southport Avenue in Chicago.

Last year, Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert, with the aid of Levin & Perconti attorneys Steven Levin and Mike Bonamarte, filed a civil lawsuit accusing the workers of stealing $750,000 from Watanabe while she was residing at Symphony of Lincoln Park from 2009 – 2018. It was her bank that flagged the suspicious account activity.

The most recent news concerning the case is that two of the woman’s former caregivers, an office manager and a former activities director, have finally been charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person. The workers wrote themselves checks from Watanabe’s bank account, withdrew money with her bank card and added their names to her bank account, without Watanabe’s permission or cognitive consent.

  • Both women received checks from Watanabe, including one for $400,000.
  • The women also transferred money from Watanabe’s accounts into their own.
  • The workers knew Watanabe has dementia and also survived living in an internment camp.
  • The women were immediately discharged from their roles once the investigation had started.
  • The nursing home’s director, Erika Cruz, is still employed at Symphony and dealing with resident needs, including their finances. Cruz has refused to answer any questions related to the case.

Golbert recently told local Chicago reporters at CBS that Tameka Wolfe and Christina Wright have been identified as the individuals who the state charged. Both were in high-ranking positions at Symphony when they together orchestrated the theft of more than a half-million dollars from Watanabe.

“They were clearly the ringleaders of all this,” Golbert said.

The women have been released on bond while some of the other accused ex-employees have returned stolen funds to Watanabe. A civil case continues against Symphony Residences owners who refuse to answer deposition questions. The company is currently being fined daily in contempt of court. Community groups, advocates and legal supporters have been pushing and fighting for Watanabe’s financial justice for more than a year.

Legal Support for Nursing Home Residents Who Have Been Financially Abused

Levin & Perconti is one of the most widely-known and respected nursing home abuse and neglect law firms in Illinois, achieving multiple million dollar verdicts and settlements for individuals and families who have been impacted by all types of nursing home abuse, malpractice, or neglect. Our attorneys are experienced to help if the personal finances of a loved one have been mishandled during a stay at any Illinois long-term care facility.

Our consultations are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our skilled attorneys. Click here to fill out an online request form or call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872.

Also read: 3 Instances of Nursing Home Theft Examined