CRIME

Caretaker accused of stealing $13,000 from 88-year-old WWII vet

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SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - A World War II veteran has less than eight dollars to his name after his caretaker allegedly wiped out his bank account.

Prosecutors have charged Tamico Martin, 44, of Silver Spring with ten felony counts of theft and and identity fraud.

Martin, who worked at the ManorCare Nursing Home along Musgrove Road in Silver Spring, allegedly swindled more than $13,000 from resident John Lindsey, 88, a widower and father of ten.

According to charging documents, Martin drove the retired war veteran to a Bank of America branch along Old Columbia Pike last March. There, the two opened a checking account. The initial deposit: a $12,000 check from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Investigators say Martin successfully obtained Lindsey's account information by claiming to be a family member.

"She [Martin] then took hold of his temporary debit card, and Lindsey never heard anything else about it," charging documents state.

From March 2013 through May of this year, police say Martin made 42 ATM withdrawals, and 69 debit card purchases at stores and restaurants across the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. All told, Martin reportedly left $7.86 in Lindsey's bank account, just enough to buy a Potbelly sandwich.

"Why would someone take advantage of him like that," Phyllis Lee asked out loud. "That really upset me."

Lee, a senior citizen herself, met Lindsey last year while hosting a Jehovah's Witness Bible study at the ManorCare facility. The two cultivated a friendly bond -- Lee drawn to Lindsey because of his kind and chatty spirit. But earlier this month, a troubling phone call -- the man who'd fought the Germans with the Army's 92nd Infantry Division, was so low on cash, he feared he may be evicted from his nursing home.

"He had nothing left," Lee added. "Mr. John, as I call him, has always been a willing and helpful person, so for someone to take advantage of him, it hurt him."

During police questioning, Martin reportedly told investigators she used the 88-year-old's debit card to buy him “cereal, clothes, and shoes numerous times." Martin also admitted to making "purchases for herself,” but only because Lindsey had allegedly told her, "to do so."

"Martin told [police] she did not believe that Lindsey has the best mental capacity, and she did not make the best judgment in 'trying to help him by withdrawing money,'" charging documents state.

On Tuesday, no one opened the front door at Martin's townhome along the 11800 block of Old Columbia Pike in Silver Spring. She did however answer her cell phone listed on court paperwork. During a very brief conversation, the embattled caretaker told ABC7, while she disagreed with the charges, her attorney had advised her to keep quiet.

"She's a nice woman," Martin's next-door-neighbor Enoch Addo stated. "She's very nice with my wife, and my family so I'm surprised to hear this."

In a statement released to ABC7, a ManorCare spokesman said Martin was an outsourced employee with their Silver Spring facility, but added her contract ended in Dec. 2012.

"The individual [Martin], however, continued visiting and assisting this resident [Lindsey] on his own at the request of the resident," the statement said. "We take any problems of this nature very seriously and are cooperating fully with the authorities."

"This was an unkind person who did not care," Lee added. "It needed to stop, it needed to stop, and I'm just glad I was around to assist him."

Maryland court records show Martin has had financial squabbles with more than half-a-dozen banks, retailers and grocery stores dating back to 1996.

The 44-year-old is scheduled to be in Montgomery County District Court on June 17 at 8:30 a.m. for an initial hearing.

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