Berks County Detectives Investigate Elder Abuse Involving Financial Exploitation

On Friday, September 21, 2018, the South Heidelberg Township Police Department contacted the Berks County Detectives Office and requested assistance related to the Financial Exploitation of (2) two Senior Citizens.

The financial loss was estimated to exceed $30,000.00. The Berks County Detectives Office took over the lead investigative role and this criminal investigation was immediately assigned to a Berks County Detective.

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The criminal investigation yielded the following information:

The victims are married and residents of Berks County. The wife, who suffers from dementia, is (80) eighty years old and her husband is (88) eighty-eight years old.

The defendant, Danielle Marie Ortega, was a trusted member of the family. The Berks County Detectives met with the complainant, who is also Power of Attorney for the victims, and reported that the defendant, Danielle Marie Ortega, accessed and utilized the victim’s checking account for personal expenditures.

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The complainant also provided the Berks County Detectives Office with a copy of the victim’s financial records and bank statements dating back as far as January 2017.

Based on the careful review of the financial records and bank statements, the Berks County Detectives learned that Ortega used the victim’s checking account to pay for her personal expenses. The defendant used the funds to pay her utility bills, cell phone bill, etc.

Additionally, there were numerous cash withdrawals and online transfers involving large sums of money, which were withdrawn from the victim’s checking account. The money from the online transfers was deposited into a personal checking account, which belonged to Ortega.

The Berks County Detectives also verified that Ortega, was listed as a “joint account holder” on the victim’s bank account, unbeknownst to the complainant, who is the P.O.A. for the victim.

The Berks County Detectives determined that the victim’s banking habits and patterns changed starting in June 2017. The financial records and bank statements identified large sums of cash were being repeatedly withdrawn from the victim’s checking account.

As a result of this exhaustive investigation, the Berks County Detectives believe the Theft started in June 2017 and continued up through September 2018.

The Berks County Detectives also believe the financial loss could exceed $53,000.00. On Monday, May 13, 2019, the Berks County Detectives filed criminal charges against Danielle Marie Ortega, at Magisterial District Judge Ann Young’s Office.

M.D.J. Young issued an Arrest Warrant for the defendant. On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Danielle Marie Ortega, surrendered to the Berks County Detectives at M.D.J. Ann Young’s Office.

M.D.J. Young arraigned the defendant, Danielle Marie Ortega, and she was released on unsecured bail pending her preliminary hearing, which will be held at a later date.

As in every criminal case, the fact that an arrest has occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation, and the defendant Danielle Marie Ortega, is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The information in the article was sourced from the Berks County District Attorney’s office.

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