Gainesville resident charged with financial exploitation of elderly
Gainesville resident Amanda Forrest, 39, was arraigned last week before Circuit Judge Craig Carter on a charge of financial exploitation of the elderly.
The charge stems from accusations that, last December, Forrest made a “false promise” to care for the animals and property belonging to an 80-year-old citizen described as a “Confidential Victim” in the charging document filed by Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant.
The probable cause statement in the case, filed by Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Curtis Dobbs, says that, on April 20, he responded to a report of unknown subjects loading items into a truck at a residence on County Road 511.
The person who reported the incident also said two vehicles – a 1999 Buick Regal and a 1995 Ford Explorer – were missing from the property.
Dobbs learned that the owner of the residence had been hospitalized in Mountain Home, Arkansas, from January to March, and then was transferred to a long-term care facility in Willow Springs. The social service director at the facility told Dobbs the resident had been “in an incapacitated state” since his arrival there, and a Guardian Ad Litem had been appointed for him in April.
When Dobbs arrived at the residence on April 20, he saw tire tracks at the back of the house “and drag marks where someone had recently drug a heavy object and loaded it into a vehicle,” he wrote in the probable cause statement. He also saw that a window had been broken on the side of the home.
While he was at the house, a truck arrived carrying Amanda Forrest and two other occupants. The two other passengers in the truck told Dobbs that Forrest had “promised them money in exchange for helping her load and haul items to another location where a person was waiting to purchase them.” Both of the other passengers said Forrest told them she had permission to be at the residence.
Forrest admitted to Dobbs that she had taken items from the home but said she had the owner’s permission in order to pay for feeding the cats and dogs, according to the statement.
Dead cats and dogs near death
The reporting party had discovered the animals in the residence and reported the situation to the sheriff’s office on March 24. The deputy who investigated the incident then said that between six and nine dead cats were found in the home as well as two dogs that were near death.
Based on information from the reporting party and other witnesses, Dobbs wrote that Forrest “may have had permission ... to feed the animals but not sell any of the items” belonging to the property owner. He added that no evidence indicated that any money received from the sale of the items ever benefitted the owner or was used to feed his animals. “The animals left in her care were abandoned and locked in the home where most died from lack of food and water,” he wrote.
Unpaid bills, missing vehicles
When asked about the two missing vehicles, Forrest said she had wrecked the Explorer and sold it to someone in Arkansas for $200.
Dobbs showed Forrest photos of the household items and appliances reported as missing, “which appeared to be on her Facebook page. ... Ms. Forrest was attempting to sell these and other items for cash on Facebook sites such as Mountain Home Online Yard Sale,” Dobbs wrote.
Forrest said she sold the items in order to pay the resident’s bill at Gainesville Veterinary Clinic. Dobbs contacted the clinic, which told him the resident did have an outstanding balance, but no one had paid on it since the charges were accrued in December.
On April 23, Dobbs contacted someone in Mountain Home who had advertised on Facebook, offering cash for old cars. The man told Dobbs that Forrest had contacted him, and he had driven to the Ozark County residence and purchased the two vehicles from Forrest, paying $200 for each vehicle. The actual value of the vehicles was in excess of $1,000 each, Dobbs wrote. The man said he had already crushed the Buick but still had the Explorer.
In the charging document, Garra-brant accused Forrest of “promising performance that the defendant did not intend to perform or knew would not be performed and thereby knowingly obtained control of two motor vehicles, household appliances and furniture ... with the intent to permanently deprive Confidential Victim of the use of the property.”
Forrest is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 8 for a plea or trial setting.