Two women in the health-care industry have been arrested separately in the last two days on suspicion of abusing elderly dementia patients they had been hired to care for, officials say.
Jennifer Lopshire, 44, was booked into the Pima County jail on one count of vulnerable adult abuse Monday evening and was being held on $5,000 bail.
Shanna Harper, 36, was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of fraud and theft/exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Her bond had not yet been set.
The Veterans Administration hired Lopshire to help care for a 91-year-old Tucson man two years ago, said Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jesse Delaney.
A short time later, the man's daughter, who lives in Minnesota, hired Lopshire to also take care of her 88-year-old mother who uses a wheelchair. The woman requires 24-hour care because of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and Parkinson's.
The couple were living in an assisted living facility until last year when Lopshire placed the man into a care facility and rented the woman an apartment, Delaney said.
On June 7, one of the woman's other caregivers called 911 to report the woman's mouth was swollen, bruised and cut on one side and that the woman had told her Lopshire caused the injuries when she "lost her temper."
Lopshire told another caregiver and police that the cut was caused by the woman chewing on a safety strap used to secure her on the toilet, court documents indicate. Lopshire could not explain the bruise or swelling.
The alleged victim was reunited with her husband of 65 years at his care facility Tuesday afternoon, Delaney said.
Investigators are combing through the victim's financial records to determine if additional charges are warranted, Delaney said. Other allegations of physical abuse are also being investigated, she said.
Lopshire's preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week.
In the second case, Harper has been paid $11 an hour by an in-home health-care company to take care of a 78-year-old dementia patient for the last three years, Delaney said.
Someone recently called Arizona's Adult Protective Services to report they suspected Harper was exploiting the former art curator financially and an investigation revealed Harper has been writing checks to herself, her boyfriend and her children, Delaney said.
When the woman could no longer sign her checks, Harper began using a specially created stamp, Delaney said.
It's believed Harper and her boyfriend, Thomas Bonds, received somewhere between $100,000 and $320,000, Delaney said.
At least some of the money was used to pay off vehicles and to purchase a motor home, Delaney said.
Bonds, 37, was also booked into the jail Tuesday on suspicion of fraud and theft/exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
Bonds was hired by Harper as the woman's gardener, court documents indicate.
The alleged victim's family attorney and trust administrator have made arrangements for different care providers so the woman can remain at home, Delaney said.
Bonds and Harper were expected to make their initial court appearance Tuesday night.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or email@example.com