Caregiver steals over $14K from 80-year-old woman with dementia, Polk deputies say

Donnitta Jean Vaughn, 56, worked for woman until March 2021

Donnitta Jean Vaughn (Polk County Sheriff's Office.)

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – A Kissimmee woman who worked as a caregiver is accused of stealing over $14,000 from an 80-year-old woman with dementia, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said Donnitta Jean Vaughn, 56, was arrested Monday after working as the woman’s caregiver since June 2019 until March 2021.

Deputies said Vaughn was paid $720 a week as the woman’s caregiver and had access to the victim’s financial information, including debit and credit cards.

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A friend of the victim learned toward the end of Vaughn’s employment there were fraudulent charges made with the 80-year-old’s credit card that had been missing, according to authorities.

The sheriff’s office said the friend was told by the victim that she would be taken to the bank by Vaughn to withdraw cash.

Officials said bank statements and card reports showed Vaughn received $4,868 more than her agreed-upon salary and that she used three credit cards belonging to the victim to buy clothes, cosmetics, bath and travel items, meals and to pay for childcare fees. The total charges on the cards came out to $9,594.28, according to deputies.

“Vaughn admitted to detectives that she felt she wasn’t getting paid enough, and knew the victim did not have the mental capacity to give permission for an increased salary, so she began using the victim’s credit cards to pay her bills and purchase other items,” a news release said.

Vaughn faces charges of criminal use of personal ID of a person over 60, exploitation of the elderly, fraudulent use of credit cards, obtaining property by fraud and grand theft.

She is being held on an $18,000 bond in the Polk County Jail.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.