Saturday, May 26, 2018
Public safety

Clearwater woman accused of stealing thousands from elderly mother

PINELLAS PARK — Police have arrested a woman they say swindled her elderly mother out of more than $80,000 over the past few years.

Bonnie Meale, 48, of Clearwater, was being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail on Friday. She faces a charge of scheme to defraud.

Detectives believe Meale drained her mother's savings of about $30,000 and took out a $50,000 loan against the 84-year-old's Pinellas Park condominium, police Capt. Sanfield Forseth said.

Forseth said Meale's uncle brought his concerns to detectives in March.

Detectives discovered that after the victim's husband died in 2008, Meale took over the finances. She quickly began moving money around, Forseth said, and at one point had her mother sign paper work she thought had to do with regular bank activity.

The woman didn't realize it was a document for a home equity loan, which records show had not been repaid, Forseth said.

Detectives also found credit cards the victim said she didn't know anything about, he said.

Forseth said Meale told detectives who confronted her on Thursday that she acted with permission.

"Her contention is that her mother knew everything that she was doing," Forseth said.

The victim has since moved out of state and lives with other family members, he said.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

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