Sierra Senior Center President Kathryn “Katie” Davis, 54, was arrested last week on suspicion of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from an elder volunteer.
Madera County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Bill Ward said Davis was arrested following a lengthy investigation around 1 p.m. outside the Oakhurst center June 23, and was charged with felony elder abuse for allegedly swindling as much as $50,000 from 90-year-old Bill Youngs.
Youngs, a volunteer at the center for 15 years, was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
He said after a career as an electrical designer at Stanford University, he and his now deceased wife spent much of his retirement funds on camping trips in a motorhome.
But his plans to live off the remaining dollars, a proverbial nest egg, all changed when he learned of the alleged theft by Davis.
“I thought we were friends up to that point,” Youngs said. “I worked pretty close with her. But all of a sudden, we aren’t friends anymore because of this, I guess.”
Youngs alerted his daughter several months after discovering the potential crime, the delay partially because he was embarrassed about it, he said.
“I didn’t know what to do about the whole thing,” Youngs said.
His son-in-law Chuck Nugent, who owns two businesses at Bass Lake, said they contacted a bank to find out what happened. They were told $50,000 was transferred from the account of Youngs to Davis, Nugent said, which prompted them to report it to the sheriff’s office.
A search warrant for checks and bank records related to those claims was served on a Madera branch of Bank of America by Sheriff’s Detective Richard Gutierrez April 5.
Nugent said security footage shows Youngs was present with Davis at that bank when the transfer was made some time earlier, but because of Alzheimer’s disease, Youngs suffers short-term memory loss and doesn’t remember being there, or the amount he signed over, some of it possibly as a gift.
“His recollection of what he may have given her doesn’t stack up with bank records,” Nugent said as Youngs nodded. “It’s not even close.”
Youngs said he can live off his social security and annuity from Stanford, but the whole family is shocked over what happened.
“This is what he had left for the rest of his life,” Nugent said. “But it’s all gone.”
Davis was transported to Madera County Jail June 23 on $50,000 bail, and paid for her release by the next morning.
Multiple attempts to contact Davis through email and calls to the senior center were unsuccessful by press time. She is scheduled to be arraigned in Madera County Superior Court July 11.
District Attorney David Linn said he was cautious about filing the charges, but spoke with involved parties and had the case reviewed by a number of law enforcement personnel.
Several people at the center have praised Davis for her tireless efforts to make the location a positive experience and her support for its many volunteer groups. Some, who did not wish to be quoted due to the criminal case, said they never expected such charges to arise and believe Davis is innocent.
Detectives are unsure if there are additional victims, Ward said, but anyone with information is encouraged to call the Madera County Sheriff’s Office at (559) 675-7770.