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Woman charged with allegedly embezzling more than $140,000 from former neighbor

by Steven Mross | March 31, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.
Charlene Kay Davila - Submitted photo

A Hot Springs woman was arrested Tuesday on felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from allegations she embezzled over $140,000 from a 73-year-old former neighbor now living in a local long-term care facility.

Charlene Kay Roots Davila, 56, who lists an Albert Pike Road address, was taken into custody shortly before 3 p.m. and charged with a felony count of abuse of an endangered or impaired person, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and a misdemeanor count of Medicaid fraud, punishable by up to one year in jail.

Davila was later released on a $22,500 bond and is set to appear April 18 in Garland County District Court.

According to court records, on March 18, 2016, Davila was arrested on a felony charge of aggravated assault for allegedly firing a gun at two people. The charge was amended to misdemeanor assault on Dec. 12, 2016, and she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in jail, all suspended. She listed no other prior criminal history.

Davila was arrested by Hot Springs police based on a probable cause affidavit prepared by Dana Pedersen, a special agent with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the attorney general's office.

According to the affidavit, on June 16, 2022, the Arkansas MFCU received a report from the Office of Long Term Care at the Department of Human Services which had received a complaint from Stacy Luster, the administrator of The Springs of Park Avenue, 1401 Park Ave., a long-term care facility, regarding one of its residents who is "presumed to be an impaired person" under Arkansas law.

Luster reported that the female resident had money taken out of her account by her Property Owners Association and her neighbor, identified as Davila, who had obtained a signed power of attorney for the resident on May 13, 2022, and had an open case in Garland County Circuit Court seeking guardianship of her.

According to court records, Davila's petition for guardianship was dismissed at her request on Feb. 27.

The affidavit notes complaints and records were obtained from DHS, the HSPD, Ombudsman Charlotte Sudmeyer, the Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general's office and Adult Protective Services.

They included bank records from Bank of America and Diamond Bank, which allegedly indicated Davila made withdrawals from the resident's account totaling $141,000 and transferred the funds to a Bank OZK account. On Oct. 13, 2022, records were obtained from Bank OZK that reportedly indicated multiple ATM withdrawals from the account.

On Jan. 11, Davila was interviewed and reportedly admitted to taking the money from the resident's bank account and depositing it in the Bank OZK account. She stated the funds were used to repair the resident's home and provided a copy of a contract with Natural State Exterior Solutions, a home improvement company.

Davila stated she made cash payments to pay the invoice, a total of $46,780, and provided a detailed list of the repairs and renovations she claims were made to the property owned by the resident.

On Jan. 13, an employee of Natural State was interviewed and reportedly stated she was contacted by Davila, who is the tax preparer for the company, and "created a fake contract and invoice" at Davila's request. She reportedly provided investigators with photos of text messages from Davila telling her what to include on the invoice.

That same day, the co-owner of Natural State was interviewed and stated he had not been to the property needing renovations and never provided an estimate to Davila. He further stated Davila has not paid Natural State for any repairs to the property owned by the resident.

He also provided a photo of a text message from Davila warning him that Pedersen might contact him and telling him she had asked the employee who created the invoice to tell Pedersen that Davila was making monthly payments toward the total cost of the renovations of the resident's property.

The other co-owner of Natural State was also interviewed the same day and also stated Davila had not paid his company for any repairs to the property owned by the resident.

On Jan. 23, Pedersen states she obtained records from T-Mobile with a subpoena that confirmed the text messages between Davila, the co-0wner of Natural State and the employee who created the invoice.

The affidavit notes the total amount of funds confirmed to be taken from the resident is $141,000, which includes $54,000 from Bank of America on May 16, 2022, $52,000 from Bank of America on May 20, 2022, and $35,000 taken from Diamond Bank on May 27, 2022.

A counter deposit of $27,000 was made back to the Bank OZK account on May 20, it said.

The affidavit was filed by Pedersen on March 8 and a warrant was issued for Davila's arrest on March 14. She turned herself in on the warrant at the Garland County Detention Center Tuesday.

Print Headline: Woman charged with allegedly embezzling more than $140,000 from former neighbor


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