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Man stole 'hundreds of thousands' from grandma with Alzheimer's, charges say

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A White Bear Lake man has been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Dennis Lee Olson II, 42, has been charged with felony theft by swindle over $35,000 by the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, the Minnesota Department of Commerce announced in a new release.

He is accused of stealing from his grandmother, Betty Jane Braun, who died at age 86 in Jan. 2013. A family member contacted White Bear Lake police in May to report their suspicions about Olson.

Investigators believe he stole hundreds of thousands from his grandmother, although because of statute of limitations, he is charged with stealing $79,000.

According to the criminal complaint, Olson opened two joint bank accounts with his grandmother, which had a combined balance of $389,000.

Money from several other accounts owned by Braun was subsequently transferred into the two accounts, which Olson was able to do through a durable power of attorney Braun signed in March 2011 – after she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Police say Braun had more than $600,000 in 2008, but by the time of her death only $15,000 could be found in bank accounts. Braun did have expenses for her care, but it only amounted to $264,000.

The complaint alleges Olson "repeatedly withdrew or transferred funds from several of Braun's bank accounts for his personal benefit."

"This case highlights the sad fact that too often family members perpetrate financial exploitation against seniors," Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said in the news release.

"It’s an example of people who abuse their position of trust both to commit the crime and to keep it covered up," he added. "It can be very hard for families to deal with, but it’s important for everyone to report suspected financial exploitation to law enforcement."

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