A woman must pay back $105,000 after stealing $260,000 from an elderly Coquitlam couple, a B.C. provincial court judged ruled Thursday.
Antonette Dizon, now 50, told the court “she was tight on money” and wanted to “provide a good life for her children” when she stole $260,000 over 15 months from a couple she had been hired to care for.
An agency hired Dizon to provide extra care to Henry and Helen Abfalter, both 86 at the time, in September 2014 at their retirement home.
Dizon helped the couple with daily activities, court documents said, and “developed a close relationship with both of them.”
She assisted the Abfalters with their banking and learned the PIN from the husband’s debit card.
Just one month after the husband was hospitalized in December 2014, Dizon took his debit card from his wallet and on Jan. 14, 2015, she began taking money from the Abfalters’ chequing and saving accounts.
Court documents say she made frequent withdrawals, sometimes daily, and usually took the maximum limit of $1,000.
She continued to care for the couple until September 2015, when the husband died and Dizon went to work full time for a cleaning business.
However, she remained close to the Abfalter family, with her daughter singing at the husband’s funeral and visiting the widow for Christmas and Mother’s Day.
Dizon also continued to steal money from the Abfalters.
Helen Abfalter’s daughter found out about the theft in April 2016, after the bank told her the balance in the account was $200,000, down significantly from the $490,000 just over a year prior.
The daughter was told withdrawals had been made at ATMs all throughout the Lower Mainland
The theft was reported to the police who began surveilling the bank branches where the debit card was being used.
Dizon made her last withdrawal in April 2016 when the ATM did not return the debit card.
After police arrested her, Dizon admitted to stealing the $260,000.
She said she had taken the money to “provide her children with a good life.” Police learned Dizon had bought a new car for her daughter, a piano, a floor polisher for her cleaning business, a bedroom furniture set for her daughter, tuition for her daughter, a trip to Disneyland and the cleaning business that she now owns.
Dizon had also used the money to pay for rent and food, paid off her Visa debt and sent some funds to family members in the Philippines.
At the time of her arrest, she had almost no money remaining.
In an victim impact statement, Helen Abfalter’s daughter said Dizon’s crime had overshadowed the last few months of her mother’s life. Abfalter passed away nine month’s after Dizon’s arrest.
When Helen had first learned of the crime, she initially refused to believe Dizon was responsible, calling her former caretaker “the kindest person.”
“She could not understand how to reconcile what Ms. Dizon projected – a good mother, church going and conscientious – with someone who could do something so dishonest and cruel,” the court documents said.
The Abfalters managed to recoup some of the money by seizing assets and through settlements with the bank and hiring agency that had brought in Dizon. She must pay back the remaining $105,000.
After pleading guilty, Dizon was sentenced to 12 months in custody and a probationary period of 18 months. During her probation, she may not possess identification or credit or debit cards except those belonging to family, not work or volunteer with the elderly and not have any contact with Helen Abfalter immediate family.