- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota woman has been convicted of bilking her grandmother out of more than $150,000 after allegedly taking the 73-year-old woman’s checkbook from her purse.

A Washington County jury Thursday convicted Elaina Casello, 24, of Forest Lake, on multiple counts of identity theft and felony theft.

Prosecutors alleged the nearly two-year scheme allowed Casello to pay household bills and a student loan.

Prosecutors said Casello told a police officer that during one of her grandmother’s visits she stole the woman’s checkbook out of her purse. The thefts occurred from February 2011 until December 2012.

County Attorney Pete Orput said his office “earmarked” the case to call attention to financial exploitation of the elderly.

“This conviction, we hope, should shout out a warning to those that would exploit the elderly that they will be held accountable,” Orput said.

Casello told the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1npFXWq) in an interview Friday the case is just “a family dispute that got blown out of proportion.” She said she has not ruled out appealing the verdict.

According to the charges, Casello accessed her grandmother’s money three ways: writing checks to herself on her grandmother’s account and forging the signature, using the checks to pay bills, and illegally accessing a bank account to pay bills electronically.

Casello posted bond and remains free until sentencing May 21.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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