81-year-old caregiver accused of stealing from McKeesport client

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A former McKeesport caregiver has been charged with stealing more than $15,000 from a bedridden stroke victim over a four-year period.

Helene Alberts, 81, was arraigned Thursday on a single felony theft charge and has been released on her own recognizance. She could not be reached this morning, and an attorney was not listed in court records.

Allegheny County district attorney's office spokesman Mike Manko said detectives believe she stole between $15,000 and $30,000 from Lois Schwartz, 82.

Detectives wrote in a criminal complaint that Ms. Alberts first denied the thefts then told them in an interview that she had, in fact, stolen from Ms. Schwartz, starting in May 2010, because she had trouble paying her bills.

Ms. Schwartz's daughter, who lives in California and oversees her finances, told her mother that Ms. Alberts was making unauthorized bank transactions and stealing from her and alerted police.

Records obtained by detectives show checks made out to Ms. Alberts and "multiple unexplained bank card transactions" while Ms. Schwartz was hospitalized and not under Ms. Alberts' care. Detectives also wrote that Ms. Alberts would withdraw between $150 to $500 each month from Ms. Schwartz's bank account and pocket the crash.

Detectives wrote that Ms. Schwartz, who suffers symptoms from a recent stroke, had "difficultly remembering and differentiating between what money she gave to Alberts and what Alberts stole from her because she suffers from symptoms of a recent stroke."

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 7.

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944.

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