$40,000-plus stolen from woman with Alzheimer’s

Authorities in Pierce County have accused a credit union employee of stealing more than $40,000 from an elderly woman who has Alzheimer’s.

Charges of theft and identify theft were filed by the Pierce County prosecutor’s office Aug. 7 against Shelley Christine Lehman, 43, after she was allegedly caught making withdrawals from an account of the victim, who lives in a care facility.

“Cases like this are why we started our Elder Abuse Unit,” a division of the prosecutor’s office that focuses on crimes against seniors, said Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist. “We are committed to protecting the vulnerable.”

Authorities give this account of their decision to file charges against Lehman:

Fircrest Police officers learned that Lehman, a teller at TAPCO Credit Union, made numerous withdrawals there from credit union member Jean Hockman’s account. Video surveillance and information about the withdrawals showed they were made by Lehman.

The fraudulent withdrawals between Dec. 9, 2015 and July 27, 2016 totaled $42,000-plus and were discovered by Hockman’s son, who reported them to TAPCO. During TAPCO’s investigation, Lehman called in sick and then sent an e-mail that stated she was “sorry” and “had messed up so bad.”

Lehman also stated she had become addicted to painkillers that were prescribed for her after she was in two traffic accidents and began purchasing the pills illegally.