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Hernando woman stole $1 million from man she was supposed to help, deputies say

The 55-year-old woman used power of attorney to steal hundreds of thousands and buy herself an old dairy farm — but it wasn’t her money, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
Joan Procida Milligan abused power of attorney to steal more than $1 million from a man she was supposed to take care of, Hernando County Sheriff's deputies alleged.
Joan Procida Milligan abused power of attorney to steal more than $1 million from a man she was supposed to take care of, Hernando County Sheriff's deputies alleged. [ Hernando County Sheriff's Office ]
Published May 6, 2020
Updated May 6, 2020

BROOKSVILLE — Joan Marie Procida Milligan had plenty of places to get money, deputies say.

There was the Suntrust Bank credit card and the two checking accounts there. And there was the deepest well: Five TD Ameritrade accounts, from which deputies say she pulled $1,032,321 over the course of 42 checks and wire transfers.

In 2017, according to property records, she used $410,000 of that money to buy an old dairy farm in eastern Hernando County, 20 remote acres off Old Trilby Road.

The big problem is that none of it — the money, the accounts — belonged to Procida Milligan, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. Instead, deputies say it all belonged to a disabled man whose affairs she controlled through power of attorney.

Procida Milligan, 55, was arrested Monday on charges of exploitation of an elderly person for more than $50,000 and theft from a person over 65 for more than $50,000.

The victim, whose named was not released, has “both physical and mental impairments which led to a lack of self-care and the inability to handle his own finances,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Now he owes $60,000 in taxes because of the TD Ameritrade transfers, the agency said, and his two rental properties in Daytona Beach are in foreclosure.

Procida Milligan was granted power of attorney over the victim and his affairs in July 2016, deputies said. The Sheriff’s Office did not say what their relationship was, or how she obtained power of attorney.

Power of attorney — the legal authority to make legal and financial decisions on someone else’s behalf — is often used by family or friends to take over the life decisions of loved ones who can no longer handle their affairs without going through a long court process. But the process has minimal oversight and is ripe for abuse. Last year a Riverview woman was arrested on charges that she used power of attorney to steal more than $500,000 from a 93-year-old Pinellas County man she had never met.

Related: Power-of-attorney has the power to be abused in Florida.

Procida Milligan didn’t wait long after obtaining power of attorney, deputies said. A week later, they said, she started using the victim’s credit card to make unauthorized purchases. She ran up nearly $10,000.

The victim kept living in his own home for a time, deputies said, but he moved in with Procida Milligan in mid-2017. Soon after, she stopped using the credit card. She’s also accused of making more than $81,000 in unauthorized transactions from his checking accounts, and of transferring more than $615,000 from his TD Ameritrade accounts into her own bank account.

In May 2019, deputies said, Procida Milligan lost or gave up her power of attorney, though they did not say why. The victim now lives in an assisted living facility and has a court-appointed guardian, who has had to sell some of the victim’s assets to pay outstanding debts Procida Milligan caused.

Procida Milligan declined to talk to deputies when she was arrested, the agency said. She had already retained lawyers. She was freed from the Hernando County jail later Monday after posting $20,000 bail.