PORT RICHEY — Doris Gehshan met Gary Eisnaugle in 2004 while he worked as a driver for a car service. She called on him often to take her shopping and on errands, and she appreciated that he was reliable and friendly.
As her health deteriorated and dementia set in, Gehshan, 84, asked Eisnaugle to help her write out her checks.
Authorities say Eisnaugle, 37, helped himself to her accounts, taking more than $137,000.
The family said he took closer to $300,000.
"My mother's money is going to run out," said daughter Barbara Gehshan, 63, who lives in Brooklyn. "I don't want her to die in a state nursing home."
Eisnaugle was arrested Tuesday and charged with grand theft and exploitation of the elderly. He remains at the Land O'Lakes jail, where bail has been set at $20,000.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement records indicate he was convicted of a similar crime a decade ago.
In 1999, Eisnaugle was convicted of swindling $3,800 from an 80-year-old woman with advanced dementia. He was sentenced to community control followed by probation, which ended in 2004.
Barbara Gehshan said she didn't find out about the first victim until after she suspected Eisnaugle of stealing from her mother.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, both victims did not recall Eisnaugle's involvement in their finances and could not understand the investigations.
"I want this guy to go to jail for at least 20 years," Barbara Gehshan said. "I don't want him to be able to do this to anybody else."
She said she discovered her mother's misappropriated money in 2008. She was reviewing records at the bank when she saw a check made out for a loan payment on a Hummer.
"I knew it was him," she said Wednesday.
Between April and December 2008, Pasco detectives say, Eisnaugle wrote 39 checks from Doris Gehshan's accounts for a total value of $98,755.
Authorities say he used the money to buy seven vehicles, including a 2005 Hummer and a 1995 Mustang. Witnesses at Price Buster Auto Sales in New Port Richey told deputies Eisnaugle admitted he was using the elderly woman's funds.
The arrest report said he also charged $38,691 worth of purchases to her credit cards and applied as a joint applicant on a credit card.
"He took advantage of her," Barbara Gehshan said. "He took over her life."
"She had very few friends. Honestly, he paid her a lot of attention."
Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, said it is important to conduct background checks on those entrusted with the care of a family member.
"Anyone who has someone look after a loved one needs to be aware," he said. It is important to "keep close surveillance on the care of that loved one. Not only physical care, but mental care and fiscal care."
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Helen Anne Travis can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 435-7312.