Saratoga Springs woman admits $50K theft from veteran; Spent on pets, travel, gambling, feds say

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ALBANY – A Saratoga Springs woman admitted to stealing $50,000 from a local veteran, spending the money on personal items and gambling, while she legally controlled his accounts, authorities said.

JoAnne Natalie, 64, pleaded guilty Thursday to misappropriating funds from the veteran while she served as his appointed fiduciary, federal prosecutors said.

She served in that role between September 2019 and January 2021. The veteran died in December 2020, prosecutors said.

During that time, she stole, embezzled and misappropriated just over $50,000 of the veteran’s VA benefits by taking the money deposited in the veteran’s bank account for herself, prosecutors said.

According to her plea agreement, Natalie admitted to using the money on pets, personal clothing items, travel, books, gas and food. She also admitted to withdrawing $22,000 from the veteran’s account and then using it to gamble, including at the Saratoga Casino.

During that time, the veteran was nearly constantly in the hospital. Some of the transactions came after he died, according to the agreement.

Natalie had been appointed fiduciary as the veteran could no longer handle his finances himself, according to the agreement. As fiduciary, she was to maintain separate bank accounts, keep proper documentation and not receive any personal benefits.

In all, Natalie admitted to taking and misappropriating $50,174, of which only about $500 was recovered, according to the agreement.

Natalie is to be sentenced in July and faces up to five years in prison. Natalie gave up the right to appeal any sentence of six months or less.

The VA Office of Inspector General investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander P. Wentworth-Ping prosecuted.

The case is part of the Elder Justice Initiative. Anyone with information regarding allegations of attempted fraud involving elders can call the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-372-8311.

Categories: -News-, News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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