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A woman who took large sums of money from a 97-year-old woman who suffers from dementia now owns a waterfront cottage which a neighbour claimed is worth up to $1 million.
Theresa Gardiner, who is 73-years-old, said she took $78,000 from the woman because she needed the money according to CBC News. She took the money from then, 95-year-old, Christine Fisher’s accounts from April to August of 2018. Gardiner even wrote herself a check worth $20,000 as she had power of attorney for the woman.
Gardiner was charged with six counts of theft by police in July 2019 though they were withdrawn by the Crown in November after Gardiner paid $20,000 in restitution. The Crown noted that it was “duty-bound to withdraw … if there is no reasonable prospect of conviction.”
According to critics, a flaw in the system was exposed by the case because no protocol is in place to monitor people with power of attorney. The cases also tend not to hold up because victims are often unwilling or do not have the ability to testify.
Gardiner said that the two have known each other for 50 years and she started to help Fisher in 2016 as she began suffering from dementia.
In June 2017, Fisher gave power of attorney to Gardiner. Gardiner claimed that Fisher wanted the $78,000 to go to her and added that she needed it because she had a terminally ill husband.
“It was through my husband’s health situation, and Chris knew that, too,” Gardiner said. “She knew my husband was very sick.”
Property records indicate that Gardiner has two properties including a Toronto condo and a cottage in Port Albert, Ontario. She took a mortgage of $150,000 out for the Toronto property in January.
Gardiner had owned the cottage since the 90s and it used to be her husband’s family home. Records indicate that they took out a $100,000 mortgage on the home in 2000. She became the sole owner of the cottage after her husband’s death in 2019.
Gardiner’s Neighbour of 20 years, Allison McElhone noted, “It is a gorgeous spot.”
McElhone added that she heard Gardiner having a discussion about selling the cottage.
“I personally know somebody who said ‘Just name your price’ and at that point they were talking between $800,000 and $1 million,” McElhone said.
McElhone read about Gardiner’s actions earlier this week. “Everybody’s jaw dropped when the article first came out … Port Albert is an extremely small town so everybody’s talking about it.”