New Smyrna Beach, FL - A 58-year-old woman that New Smyrna Beach Police detectives say spent more than $162,000 of her elderly victim's money is facing charges of Grand Theft over $100,000, Exploitation of an Elderly Person, Organized Scheme to Defraud over $50,000, Using Victim's I.D. to Commit Fraud and Forging or Altering a Bank Instrument.
Deborah Studer is accused of buying herself a 2016 Chevy Malibu with a personal check from her victim for $33,000. Bank records show that a $4,000 payment was made to a local Harley-Davidson dealer. Studer's husband, David Mark Studer, owns three motorcycles, according to police.
Studer was hired to care for the victim's late partner in 2015. When he passed away less than two months later, the family asked Studer to stay on and take care of their mother. The investigation began in May 2016, when the victim's bank contacted the Department of Children and Families to report that Studer had been added to the bank account. The number of withdrawals and other transactions created the suspicion of elder exploitation.
In June of 2017, records show that Studer took the victim to a Port Orange attorney's office, where a contract entitled, "Lifetime Agreement for Health Services & Other Personal Services" was signed by both Studer and the victim. Family members were not made aware of the agreement.
In August 2018, family members supplied investigators with a Power of Attorney in their names signed in October 2009. A re-examination of the case determined it was the only valid document in existence. Up until this time, police were not aware of the victim's deteriorating mental health. The victim's doctor told investigators that the victim mental had been failing for some time, likely since 2009 when the POA was signed.
Studer was arrested on Monday (October 7) and bonded out of the Volusia County Jail yesterday (October 8). She is scheduled for arraignment on October 30, 2019.