A 50-year-old woman pleaded not guilty Friday to taking more than $215,000 from her 94-year-old grandfather’s bank account over a 14-month period in the Anaheim area, according to court records.
Michele Marie Bilbao was charged Tuesday with 15 felony counts of theft from an elder adult and faces sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime exceeding $100,000.
After Bilbao’s grandmother died in April of 2012, she began helping her grandfather, Frank Centeno, pay his bills, according to a declaration from an Orange County sheriff’s investigator in a request to increase the defendant’s bail.
In the beginning, she would sit down with her grandfather, sort through the bills and provide him paper statements because he does not use a computer, the investigator said.
But in early 2017 she started handling his credit union account electronically and stopped providing him paper statements. That left Centeno unable to “monitor his money anymore,” the investigator alleged.
In June, when the victim’s son visited from Iowa he took Centeno to his bank where they discovered his accounts had been “severely depleted,” the investigator alleged.
The victim’s credit union account had $237,868.77 in it as of May 2017, but by July 31 it was down to $21,084.90, the investigator said.
The victim’s son called a family meeting and Bilbao agreed to pay back the money and admitted she “borrowed” it from her grandfather to help a friend she met online who said he was “sick” and needed help with medical expenses, the investigator alleged.