Police officer in court for embezzlement
NEVADA CITY, Calif. – A Placerville police officer has pleaded innocent to charges he embezzled more than $50,000 from an elderly woman who suffers from dementia.
Frank B. Santos Jr. appeared Monday in Nevada County Superior Court. He is charged with theft and embezzlement, with a further allegation he took funds and property exceeding $50,000 in value.
The enhanced charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, said Jim Phillips, deputy district attorney.
Santos came to court accompanied by family members. He had no comment after the arraignment, but his father tussled with a television news crew.
Santos is on paid administrative leave from the Placerville Police Department pending an ongoing internal investigation, said Placerville police Chief Steve Brown.
Brown said the department is taking the charges against Santos seriously, and that elder financial abuse is a big problem everywhere.
“It’s an emotionally charged issue … a hot button,” Brown said.
Florence Pena, 77, is a former Nevada City resident who lives in Siena Care Center in Auburn. She has been diagnosed with dementia, a severe organic mental deficiency.
According to court records, Santos gained power of attorney to oversee Pena’s assets and was named sole beneficiary in her will in December 2000.
Santos allegedly drained Pena’s bank accounts and bought himself a sports utility vehicle worth nearly $50,000 with Pena’s money. Santos also tried unsuccessfully to get the deed to Pena’s Nevada City house, according to Nevada City police Sgt. Loren Gage.
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