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Charges: Wayzata woman's personal secretary stole nearly $1.5M from her

The victim, who had multiple health issues, hired a personal secretary to look after her finances.

A Wayzata woman's personal secretary is accused of stealing nearly $1.5 million from her in the years leading up to her death. 

Cynthia Lou Carley, 63, of Branson, Missouri, is charged via summons with six counts of theft by swindle in connection to her scheme involving the victim, a 65-year-old Wayzata woman. The woman had "multiple serious medical conditions," including muscular dystrophy, and was receiving full-time, in-home health care services. 

Carley's scheme ran from about mid-2016 to mid-2019, during which she used the victim's bank account to pay for her personal expenses, including multiple credit cards and at casinos in Branson, the criminal complaint states. 

In total, Carley used money from the victim's Old National Bank checking account to pay $1.46 million on multiple credit cards and other accounts without the victim's knowledge or consent, charges state. 

"The investigation ultimately showed that the defendant used her position of trust to gain access to the victim’s funds and convert them to her personal use, taking advantage of the Victim’s declining health and inability to manage her own finances to perpetuate this long term fraudulent scheme," the complaint says. 

The Wayzata Police Department began investigating this after receiving a report from the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center on June 28, 2019, regarding the financial exploitation of the victim, charges say. The victim's nephew had discovered the thefts while he was reviewing financial records after the victim's son died in May 2019, charges note. 

Carley, according to the complaint, started working for the victim in 2002, and was tasked with paying her bills and filing her taxes. She lived in Missouri but would visit the victim at her Wayzata home two to three times per year until her employment was terminated on June 29, 2019. 

In a statement to a Wayzata police investigator, Carley admitted she was responsible for the victim's finances and that her health issues made it difficult for her to manage her own money. She acknowledged the victim's physical condition had been deteriorating over the years and the victim "just didn't care about anything" and told her to "just take care of it" regarding her financial matters. 

Carly told police she was paid $5,000 per month as a salary and admitted she made personal purchases with the victim's money in lieu of a normal paycheck, saying any spending or purchases she made with the victim's money that totaled more than her monthly salary was "unintentional."

Police reviewed 32 credit cards and other accounts that had payments from the victim's Old National Bank account. The bank branch manager had expressed concern to police about overdrafts on the victim's account, noting the manager had approached the victim about the overdrafts and was told to contact Carley.

The criminal complaint did not identify the victim, who lived in Wayzata until she died in September 2019. 

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