SCOTTSBLUFF — A Gering woman is accused of stealing money from her grandmother that had been meant to pay bills for the care of the woman.
Crystal D. Lessert, 40, has been charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult, a Class IIIA felony. Charges against the woman were filed in January.
Scottsbluff Police began investigating Lessert in September 2018 after police received an adult protective services intake. Allegations involved Lessert’s 80-year-old grandmother, who resides in a Scottsbluff nursing home. Lessert had been named the woman’s power of attorney and was responsible for managing her finances.
According to the arrest affidavit, Lessert had not paid the woman’s nursing home bill, of nearly $5,000, since April 2018. The woman had moved into the care center in August 2017 and Lessert had not paid any bills on her behalf until January 2018, when she paid half the bill. In April 2018, she only paid $3,700, leaving the past due balance. After the complaint to police, Lessert paid $1,000 on the bill in October, which by that time had increased to leave an outstanding balance of $5,740.
The woman’s daughter had visited her mother and told police she didn’t know what Lessert may be doing with the money and that at one time, her mother had needed items, but had no funds to pay for them.
Police talked to personnel at the care center, who noted that she had been sending bills to Lessert and the woman’s daughter. Bills had also been sent to Lessert via email after she said she had not been receiving them in the mail.
A Department of Health and Human Services caseworker involved in the investigation and police subpoenaed Lessert’s grandmother’s bank statements. Police questioned 26 transactions, totaling an estimated $2,000, according to the affidavit.
Police interviewed Lessert in December 2018. The woman told police that she and her grandmother shared the same bank and that they had similar bank cards. She claimed she had become confused and used her grandmother’s cards. Questionable charges included payments for a tattoo, purchases on a vacation, clothing stores and payments of a medical costs.
The case against Lessert has been bound over to Scotts Bluff County District Court for trial. The case is currently scheduled for trial during the September jury term.