Caretaker Accused of $70,000 Theft From Elderly Patient

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SWIFTWATER -- Police in the Poconos have charged a caretaker with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from an elderly woman.

Police say the caretaker is Jeanette Strausser of Saylorsburg.  She was working for a health care agency out of Stroudsburg when she was assigned to take care of an 82-year-old woman living near Cresco.

State police tell us that caretaker ended up spending $70,000 of the woman's money last year.

"It's not right and it's not fair and we should have faith in our community and people. It's upsetting when something like this happens," said Brittney Hunter of Cresco.

According to state police, from January to September of last year, an elderly woman living on Upper Swiftwater Road near Cresco was being cared for by Strausser of Saylorsburg. During that time, state police say Strausser bought $70,000 worth of items by using the elderly woman's bank card.

Items included 40 cases of beer, a few computer tablets, a 15-foot rug, 56 cartons of cigarettes and hundreds of dollars at grocery stores and restaurants.

"I feel it's terrible that you can't trust people who you feel you should be able to," said Hunter.

"It's sad but it happens a lot. There are a lot of people out there preying on the elderly especially with the economic times and the way they are," said Gretchen Peters of the Monroe County Area Agency on Aging.

Peters says a lot of times the elderly are alone and don't have anyone and easily trust people.

The Monroe County Area Agency on Aging offers many programs to prevent seniors from becoming victims of fraud.  One program in particular allows volunteers to run errands for seniors in need.

"We will try to help you to get some kind of system set up where you can get your groceries and that kind of thing. In a situation that's monitored, that it's not a total stranger," said Peters.

Jeanette Strausser is locked up in the Monroe County Prison.