MEDIA, Pa. (FOX 29) - A Delaware County woman has been charged with stealing more than $337,000 from her elderly mother, prosecutors announced Monday.
Bernadette Branson-Lawler, 52, of Springfield, is charged with stealing $337,715 from her 78-year-old mother over nearly seven years.
According to Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland, Branson-Lawler used the stolen money to pay for various personal expenses, including her interior design business, gym membership, and cell phone, in addition to writing herself personal checks.
Branson-Lawler has been charged with theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and false impression, and receiving stolen property, all second-degree felony offenses.
Investigators say Branson-Lawler stole the funds from her mother, who has dementia and is non-verbal, from January 2011 to October 2017.
The victim resides at an assisted living facility in Delaware County.
Branson-Lawler's "suspicious withdrawals," were discovered after she failed to submit the required guardian paperwork and appear in court on behalf of her mother, according to the district attorney's office,
"Our older residents deserve to fully enjoy their well-earned retirement without the fear of being victimized," said Copeland. "Bernadette Branson-Lawler stole that liberty from her own mother, who is not able to speak for herself, betraying the trust of the entire family, and stealing her mother's life savings for her own leisure and selfish pursuits."
A preliminary hearing for Branson-Lawler is set for Feb. 5.
If you suspect a senior resident is being financially victimized, please contact the Senior Exploitation Unit at 610-891-5249 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.