Two Longview women are facing charges of defrauding their 88-year-old mother of over $600,000.
The charges of theft, forgery and money laundering cover a period from May through October 2017, when Patricia Matherson, 66, and Kathryn Hemenway, 70, allegedly persuaded their mother, Theresa Reed, 88, to sign over finances to them with no legal authority and acted against Reed’s interests. The two women were arrested on July 27, 2018.
Hemenway faces individual charges of first and second degree theft and four charges of money laundering. Matherson faces three counts of first-degree theft, two counts of second-degree theft, eight counts of forgery, five counts of money laundering, and a single charge of third-degree theft.
While police have identified $639,570 that the sisters stole from Reed, Cowlitz County Prosecutor Ryan Jurvakainen said he had not yet confirmed the ultimate amount the sisters are accused of stealing.
“You’re looking at a situation with a lot of documentation and transactions,” Jurvakainen said. “Any time there’s a financial fraud investigation like this, the investigations are voluminous and take a lot of time and effort on the part of law enforcement.”
The first charge of theft dates back to a $3,000 transfer from Reed’s bank account to Hemenway on May 23, 2017. Matherson’s power of attorney for her mother was removed the next day, but suspicious transfers of money and checks from Reed’s bank account continued for about a month.
The allegedly fraudulent transfers range from a $37.63 check to pay a CenturyLink bill to a $160,000 transfer to a joint account between Reed and Matherson that the sisters allegedly used to launder the ill-gotten funds.
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When confronted by their mother’s court-appointed guardian in Superior Court, about $300,000 was returned to Reed’s accounts, according to arresting documents. But police and court investigations found more accounts which “were not disclosed to the courts, and it appears there was significant effort to conceal these funds in Patricia and Katheryn’s (sic) names.”
In the joint account between Matherson and Reed, nearly $640,000 was withdrawn by Matherson and shuffled between other accounts belonging to Hemenway and Matherson over a period of several months.
That money came from financial accounts and inheritance checks from relatives that were meant for Reed, according to police documents.
The replacement court-appointed guardian sought a financial (but not no-contact) restraining order for Reed against Matherson in June 2017. In May 2018, she sought a similar order against Hemenway.
“The guardian believes Patricia’s and Kathryn’s visits are, for the most part, beneficial… ,” an attorney representing the guardian wrote. “However, current circumstances require the court’s attention.”
The guardian alleged that the daughters briefly removed their mother without warning from her assisted living home, showed hostility toward staff there, and “engaged in behavior which merely increased their mother’s anxiety and agitation.”
Reed was “not cognitively able to understand” the situation, the guardian wrote. The guardian came to Longview police in April this year to report the thefts criminally.