A former massage therapist and her friend have been charged with three felonies after they attempted to draw the funds from and close the bank account of a 78-year-old dementia patient after one of the women married him. The women, 56-year-old Sujinda Yahatta and her accomplice, 29-year-old Kulany Roeksbutr, both with Thai connection, are being charged with kidnapping, attempted theft and obtaining a signature by deception or duress.
According to the story in The Seattle Times, Yahatta, who had given the elderly man several massages in her capacity as a masseuse, at the Greenwood Point Adult Family home in Issaquah took the man from the home one day in November claiming that she and Roeksbutr were taking him out to lunch. Instead, they took him to the Bellevue Courthouse and had a judge marry the two. After the marriage ceremony, they proceeded to a Bank of America branch in Bellevue where they attempted to close his bank account and withdrawal $23,000. Alert bank employees called the man’s guardian, Eldon Kenney, 73, of Bellevue and alerted him.
Apparently, the elderly man has dementia so severe that he does not remember the marriage and he does not remember ever having met Yahatta in the past.
If convicted, the two women could be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison. Their arraignment is December 30th. Papers have already been filed to annul the sham marriage.
Cases of undue influence occur far too frequently. Undue influence refers to when a person takes advantage and wields power over another person who is in a diminished psychological or physical state. People often use undue influence in order to take financial or sexual control over the weaker person. One case of undue influence of late was a former Whitworth college trustee that slowly bilked a Bellevue widow of $150,000.
We see many elder abuse cases and, as in this case, many times an elderly person is pressured to “give a gift”, sign a loan document or transfer property to the person in power over them. The legal question is, “Was this vulnerable adult able to understand the details of the transaction that he/she was involved in?” The court will look to see if the elderly person was discouraged in seeking counsel from a trustworthy source like a family member, guardian or physician and whether the person made the decision in an appropriate setting with a time frame that was reasonable.
If your loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, you should contact The Farber Law Group with more than 40 years experience of successfully representing case of elder abuse and neglect. We have a track record of obtaining compensation for victims for abuse and neglect that took place in a nursing home setting.
Contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.