On January 8, 2018, a complainant reported to the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office that Laurie Faircloth had functioned as a caretaker for a 71 year old female, and financially exploited the elderly adult. The Criminal Investigations Division (CID) began conducting the investigation which involved financial complexities and crimes committed in both Wakulla and Leon Counties. On March 6, 2018, CID contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and requested the assistance of an FDLE investigative squad which specializes in financial investigations. The FDLE concurred and the investigation was thereafter worked jointly by CID and FDLE.
The investigation determined that in February 2016, Ms. Faircloth became the victim’s caretaker. Ms. Faircloth, although not a relative, convinced the victim to give her power of attorney and to make Ms. Faircloth the beneficiary of the victim’s will. According to the victim, Ms. Faircloth asked for $20,000 in the beginning of 2017 as payment for her services in 2016. The victim stated this was the only time Ms. Faircloth ever mentioned that she needed to be paid for providing caregiver services, and she agreed to the financial arrangement. Before Ms. Faircloth became the victim’s caretaker, the victim had over $110,000 in a savings account, around $9,000 in another account, over $235,000 in her Individual Retirement Account (IRA), and over $200,000 in appraised assets, including jewelry, gold coins, platinum, and silver. From February 2016 to January 2018, all of the victim’s accounts were depleted leaving zero balances. The victim is now living on social security and food stamps.
Starting on July 25, 2016, and ending on June 5, 2017, Ms. Faircloth sold jewelry items to a business that purchases valuables. The total amount paid to Ms. Faircloth for the jewelry items was approximately $3,420. From July 5, 2016 to August 23, 2016, Ms. Faircloth was paid approximately $52,030 in total for bullion, most of which were Mexican Peso gold coins and Canadian Maple Leaf gold coins. Ms. Faircloth also sold the company U.S. gold coins on July 8, 2016, and July 20, 2018. The company provided CID and FDLE with photographs of the jewelry items that had been purchased from Ms. Faircloth, and the victim identified her jewelry when shown the photographs. From July 5, 2016, to December 2, 2016, the company that purchased the valuables from Ms. Faircloth issued her 11 checks totaling approximately $65,156, all of which were deposited into Ms. Faircloth’s bank account. As of January 10, 2018, the bank account balance was zero.
On May 2, 2018, Ms. Faircloth told a CID Detective and a FDLE Special Agent that she had been taking care of the victim and was being paid $15 per hour, but did not recall how much she was receiving from the victim each month or each year of her service. Ms. Faircloth acknowledged that she had power of attorney over the victim and stated that everything the victim had, “we spent on dog rescue.” Ms. Faircloth explained that she rescues animals and did “a good deed with it.” Ms. Faircloth stated that the only thing she has pertaining to jewelry that belongs to the victim are her “pearls.”
On August 15, 2018, an arrest warrant was obtained for Ms. Faircloth charging that:
- Laurie Faircloth did knowingly obtain or use, or endeavored to obtain or use, an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the elderly person or disabled adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets, or property, or to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult; if the funds, assets, or property involved in the exploitation of the elderly person or disabled adult is valued at $50,000 or more, contrary to Section 825.103(3)(a), Florida Statutes.
- Laurie Faircloth did unlawfully traffic in or did endeavor to traffic in, the property of the victim, which the defendant knew or should have known was stolen, contrary to Section 812.019(1), Florida Statutes.
- Laurie Faircloth did knowingly give false verification of ownership or a false or altered identification to a pawnbroker, of the victim, and received $300 or more in money for goods sold or pledged, contrary to Section 539.001(8)(b)8b, Florida Statutes.
On August 16, 2018, Ms. Faircloth was arrested by authority of the arrest warrant and booked into the Wakulla County Jail. She is being held on a $75,000 bond.