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Woman accused of stealing elderly mom's home

January 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Leilani Luahiwa stands accused of swindling her own elderly mother out of house and home.

Luahiwa was in a Victorville courtroom Tuesday where the judge entered a not guilty plea on the woman's behalf and appointed her a public defender.

The 52-year-old caregiver is charged with theft and elder abuse, both felonies. She is being held on $100,000 bail.

"The elder abuse would cover all aspects of that. It could be physical, emotional, and in this case it's financial crime," said the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Susan Rose.

The suspect's son, who did not want to speak on camera, says his mother is being falsely accused.

In fact, he says his grandmother wanted to sign over the home to her daughter five years ago after her medical bills began to pile up following heart surgery.

He says his grandmother told them she needed to rid herself of the property to qualify for low income medical coverage.

But investigators are telling a different story.

They say the 87-year-old victim signed documents she thought allowed her daughter to act as her caregiver.

"The mom unwittingly and trusting her daughter signed that paper, which she later discovered transferred ownership of her home," Rose said.

Investigators say four years later, the victim discovered she no longer owned the house after another daughter found the property taxes had not been paid.

Investigators say the elderly often fall victim to financial abuse either because of health-related issues or because of their lack of knowledge about financial matters. They advise the elderly to look over any documents before signing them.