Two Brighton roommates allegedly concocted a brazen scheme to bilk an ailing, elderly neighbor of $450,000 by agreeing to use the money to care for the woman’s beloved cat as long as it lived.
But instead of safeguarding the assets for the pet, a tabby named Puddy Cat, the two women are accused of going on a spending spree, buying a $28,000 Mini Cooper car, an iPad, a Vitamix blender, and a Netflix subscription — all while the 74-year-old woman, who suffers from dementia, was in a nursing home. They also siphoned off tens of thousands of dollars in cash, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Michele Granda said in Suffolk Superior Court Thursday.
The two roommates, Randi Berkowitz and Patricia DiGiacomo, were arraigned on a 63-count indictment in what authorities called one of the most startling cases of elder exploitation they had seen in years. They pleaded not guilty, and their attorneys said the elderly woman was not a victim, but had a deep emotional attachment with the defendants, trusting them to make sure her cat was cared for.
The prosecutor put forth another scenario.
Granda said that before the woman granted Berkowitz power of attorney in December 2012, she had $216,000 in her bank account. When a conservator finally stepped in and terminated Berkowitz’s legal access to the woman’s money, just $2.16 remained in the account.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week