A Filipina caregiver who stole $260,000 over 16 months from an elderly Coquitlam couple she was caring for has been sentenced to a year in jail and 18 months probation, a B.C. provincial court judged ruled.
Antonette Dizon, now 50, was hired in September 2014 by Henry and Helen Abfalter, both 86, to provide extra homecare assistance at their retirement home, according to court documents.
Dizon helped the couple with daily activities 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.
Shortly after he was hospitalized in December 2014, Dizon stole that debit card from his wallet in his bedroom. She began taking money from the Abfalters’ chequing and savings accounts.
Court documents say she made frequent withdrawals, sometimes daily, and usually took the maximum limit of $1,000. From January 2015 to April 2016 until after Henry Abfalter’s death in September 2015, she then proceeded to drain the couples’ accounts of $260,000.
The thefts were finally discovered on April 28, 2016, by the Abfalters’ daughter, who had power of attorney over her mother’s accounts. The bank told her the balance in the account was $200,000, down significantly from the $490,000 just over a year prior.
She was told that the withdrawals had been made at ATMs all throughout the Lower Mainland. She reported it 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.
Helen Abfalter, who was by then 91 years old, died nine months after Dizon’s crime was discovered. After police arrested her, Dizon admitted to stealing the $260,000. She told the court “she was tight on money” and wanted to”provide her children with a good life.”
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.
Police learned Dizon had bought a new car for her daughter, a piano, a floor polisher for her cleaning business, 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.
Along with the jail sentence and probation, Dizon was ordered to pay Helen Abfalter’s estate back $105,000 – the sum it wasn’t able to recoup through seizing assets and settling civil suits with the bank and the home care agency Dizon had worked for.
During her probation, she may not possess identification or credit or debit cards except those belonging to the family, not work or volunteer with the elderly and not have any contact with Helen Abfalter immediate family.