Crime

She offered to help an elderly woman around the house. Kennewick police say she helped herself to $10,000

A Kennewick woman offered to help a fellow churchgoer with household chores, then allegedly took at least $10,000 in cash advances from the elderly woman’s bank account.

Vonne S. Marlatt, 58, told an Adult Protective Services investigator that she had permission to use the woman’s credit card.

However, the investigation found that at one point the victim’s outstanding balance grew substantially to $17,187, most of it due to cash advances, court documents show.

Marlatt is charged in Benton County Superior Court with first-degree theft and second-degree identity theft. She has a May 7 trial date.

The alleged theft came to light last July when the woman’s daughter, who lives in Northern California, contacted Kennewick police about questionable financial transactions.

Her mother, who was 76 at the time, reportedly lived alone.

An officer went to the woman’s home and discovered her phone was disconnected and she didn’t know how to get it hooked up. The officer used the Kennewick Police Department Foundation’s Community Cares Fund to buy her a prepaid cellphone.

The woman reported she knew Marlatt from church, and that Marlatt had approached her in February 2017 and offered to help her around the house, documents said.

She said Marlatt would take her to buy groceries and run errands at other stores, and eventually she gave Marlatt her credit card’s PIN to withdraw money.

During the theft investigation, a neurologist determined the woman might have dementia based on the results of a cognitive test being “significantly abnormal,” court documents said.

A Kennewick detective then reviewed the woman’s bank statements over nearly 1 1/2 years and found her Visa card typically had an outstanding balance of $2,000 to $3,000.

But in May and June it grew to more than $17,000, including 21 cash advances totaling $9,760, documents said.

One cash advance was for $201 on May 23 at a Kennewick grocery store.

The detective reviewed store video from that date and found Marlatt using the credit card, documents said. The card owner reportedly was not with her at the time.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531, @KristinMKraemer

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