Shirley Gonzales

Tucson Police Department

A woman working as an in-home caregiver was arrested Thursday, suspected of stealing $917,000 from an elderly client.

Shirley Gonzales, 59, is accused of writing 818 checks on the 70-year-old victim’s account over the course of four years, said Sgt. Pete Dugan, spokesman for the Tucson Police Department. The victim has since died.

Gonzales was booked into the Pima County jail and faces one count each of forgery, theft from a vulnerable adult, misuse of power of attorney and fraud schemes and artifices. The Arizona Attorney General’s office is reviewing the case and additional charges may be filed, Dugan said.

The investigation was launched in June 2011, when another caregiver noticed irregularities in the victim’s finances and reported it to the police department, Dugan said.

Gonzales, who was not affiliated with any elder-care agencies, had worked for the victim from 2007 to 2011. When the investigation started, Arizona Adult Protective Services found a new caregiver for the victim, whose relatives lived out-of-state, Dugan said.

“It takes a long time for them to do this the right way and track down all the checks,” Dugan said of the prolonged investigation.

“Gonzales did have power of attorney over the victim’s finances,” Dugan said. “The investigation revealed she was obviously abusing the power of attorney and writing all those checks and forging the signature of the victim. She admitted taking money she did not earn from the victim.”