New Smyrna Beach, FL-Update: Deputies have re-arrested a Palm Coast woman for alleged witness tampering. 29-year-old Michelle Laureano was charged with felony counts involving an 83-year-old New Smryna Beach woman. Laureano allegedly made unauthorized charges on the woman’s credit cards while she was employed as the woman’s caregiver. Deputies say after Laureano bonded out Thursday, she showed up at the victim’s home and tried to convince her to drop the charges. She told the woman she would repay her and give her $500 extra if the charges were dropped. The victim says Laureano also threatened to kill herself if she didn’t pass a background check for nursing school. Laureano was contacted at her Palm Coast home and taken into custody. She had been warned by investigators not to contact the alleged victim in this case.
Earlier reporting follows: Felony charges are being brought against an in-home caregiver after VCSO found that she had used an 83-year-old New Smyrna Beach woman’s credit card to buy hundreds of dollars of food, candy, clothes, gift cards and gas for herself.
Investigators brought the charges against 29-year-old Michelle Laureano of Palm Coast on Wednesday. She is charged with exploitation of the elderly, grand theft and illegal use of credit cards.
The case was opened on April 4, after the victim saw that her credit card statements were higher than normal. She contacted the Sheriff’s Office and reported that she had given Laureano her credit card to buy groceries and other needed items.
After reviewing receipts dating back to December, she saw about $600 in unauthorized charges. She found more receipts a few days later with close to another $400 in unauthorized charges. Laureano spent more than $600 for gas for her vehicle.
The total amount of the unauthorized transactions between January and March this year was $1,608.87. Laureano was the victim’s assigned caretaker for about 1 ½ years, and the dollar amount may increase as even more receipts are recovered.
Laureano was taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail on Wednesday evening and held on a $7,000 bond. She was released after posting bail later Wednesday night.
(photo of Michelle Laureano courtesy of Volusia County Jail)
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