Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In two Pasco cases, three arrested in crimes against two elderly mothers

One 75-year-old woman suffers from an advanced state of dementia and lives in an assisted living facility.

Another 80-year-old woman, who is mentally incompetent, remains at home but must be cleaned and fed.

The two women have nothing in common except for this sad fact: Both had grown children who were arrested Wednesday, in separate cases, accused of stealing thousands of dollars from their elderly, infirm mothers.

In the first case, Darlene Edwards, 48, is accused of cashing her 75-year-old mother's Social Security checks for herself, instead of paying the bills for her mother's care. The $760 monthly checks were diverted from March 2008 to this April, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.

Edwards, who had power of attorney over her mother's estate, racked up $10,000 in debt to the facility, the sheriff's report said.

Edwards told authorities she was aware she was behind in the payments to Westbrook Manor Assisted Living Facility in Zephyrhills, and that her brother in California was supposed to help cover expenses but never did.

Someone from the facility contacted the state Department of Children and Families, who called the Sheriff's Office.

Edwards, of 26680 Players Circle, Apt. 12 in Lutz, was charged with exploitation of the elderly. She remained at the Land O'Lakes jail Thursday in lieu of $1,500 bail.

In the second case, Michael B. Smith, 52, is accused of using $6,900 from the checking account of his 80-year-old mother to buy bicycles and give money to friends.

The Sheriff's Office said Smith had been withdrawing the money since Feb. 23, and he continued to write checks even after he learned May 6 that the account was overdrawn.

An official from Wachovia Bank froze the woman's accounts and contacted authorities.

Authorities also determined that Smith and his ex-wife Donna Lou Vaughn, 51 — who was the mother's caregiver — failed to clean or feed the woman.

Smith and Vaughn, both of 5814 Chapman Drive in New Port Richey, were arrested Wednesday.

Smith is charged with neglect of the elderly and exploitation of the elderly. He is being held in lieu of $7,500 bail at the Land O'Lakes jail.

Vaughn is charged with neglect of the elderly. She is being held in lieu of $2,500 bail.

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at (813) 909-4609 or

In two Pasco cases, three arrested in crimes against two elderly mothers 05/14/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 14, 2009 9:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  3. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  4. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling


    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. PTA treasurer at Pinellas school accused of stealing $5,000


    The treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Association at a Pinellas County elementary school faces a felony fraud charge after she was accused of stealing from the organization to pay her credit card and phone bills.

    Lisa McMenamin, 50, of Tarpon Springs, is facing felony charges of scheming to defraud the Brooker Creek Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, where she served as treasurer. She is accused of stealing $5,000 to pay credit card and phone bills. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]