NORTH PORT— A Port Charlotte couple who were hired to help care for an elderly man from North Port have been arrested for allegedly exploiting him out of more than $100,000.
The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office arrested Rozana, 47, and Joaquin Venegas, 45, of the 17200 block of Lake Worth Blvd., on an out of county warrant. They were charged with felony exploitation of the elderly for over $100,000.
The Venegas’ were caring for the 80-year-old, because most of his family lives on the east coast of Florida. He hired the couple to assist him with tasks like food preparation, driving him to appointments, and other tasks for a fee of $240 a week, according to the affidavit.
According to police, he is extremely hard of hearing, which makes it difficult for him to communicate at times.
In January, the man was brought to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment of numerous sores on his body, as a result of not being cared for properly.
Rozana allegedly told hospital staff the victim had no living family, and she was the only caregiver, the affidavit states.
At this time, hospital staff discovered the victim did have family, and someone was listed as his power of attorney since 2009. His family was notified.
The family spoke with the hospital and explained Rozana completed an “Enhanced General Durable Power of Attorney” in February without contacting his family.
That same day, the couple made a withdrawal from the victim’s account for close to $250,000, and deposited it into their account, the affidavit states.
Upon further investigation, police found the couple wrote checks to themselves, signed by the victim, including a check for more than $19,000 for upgrades to the house/hearing aides, which police say were never purchased.
Rozana ensured police she could provide receipts for the services provided. However, when police reached out to the business name they provided, the owner stated he was contacted to complete a proposal for “tax purposes.” He stated he never received any money from the couple, or provided any services, and was only trying to help them out, the affidavit states.
The couple later admitted to officers that the checks were used to help pay off their own personal bills.
When police spoke to the man, he said he didn’t know what his caretakers were trying to say to him, so he just agreed. He didn’t know they were taking money from him, police say.
Police are looking for anyone else in the community who may have worked with the Venegas’ for care services. If you have more information, North Port Police ask you contact Detective Chris Clark at email@example.com or 941-429-7349.
The couple may receive possible additional charges.
According to the affidavit, the victim is suffering from infirmities of aging and is in the hospital. Police say he is receiving excellent care and is doing well.