Updated 12/12/2012 09:27 PM
Monticello woman charged with grand larceny
A Monticello woman has been charged with grand larceny after police say she was stealing money from her relatives. Eva McKend has more with a report from Sullivan County on how theft is impacting the elderly.
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MONTICELLO, N.Y. -- Lila Puzio, the owner of a Monticello hair salon, is facing grand larceny charges after detectives say she was stealing from her elderly parents.
"The parents came in back in November to report that someone had stole from their Bank of America account. When they checked those other accounts, they found that those accounts had been depleted also," said Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Cyrus Barnes.
Detectives say when Puzio's parents learned she took more than $140,000, they were in disbelief.
"They were in denial at first, but when I started investigating surveillance videos from the three different banks and showed them who had been doing the stealing of the funds, they were upset about it," Barnes explained .
The Sullivan County Office of the Aging says the elderly can prevent abuse by staying in regular contact with their banks.
"They need to talk to someone. They need to talk to their banks and make sure that if they are putting someone on their account that they know what that account is for," said Office of the Aging Director Deborah Allen.
Detectives echo that sentiment.
"They need to protect their identity and protect their bank accounts. I’ve heard of instances where people give their debit cards and their pin numbers to people to go make purchases for them and these people hold on to this information and use it later on," said Barnes.
The victims in this case are not alone. One in nine Americans over the age of 60 experiences some kind of elder abuse. Anyone who suspects that a senior citizen has been abused or victimized can call the Sheriff’s 24 hour senior citizen hotline at (845) 807-0159.