New Haven Police arrested two women for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from an elderly woman over several years.
Police arrested Sandra Pelkey, 71, and Mary Jeannie Benedetto, 60, both of Terryville for larceny of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Police said a nine-month investigation started after the elderly woman’s bank notified police they believed she was being held captive.
On June 8, 2017, officers arrived at the home of the 73-year-old victim on Temple Street.
When officers arrived, the elderly woman answered the door and police said she seemed to be in good health.
A Global Financial Crimes Compliance Investigator for Bank of America had notified the police that he suspected one of his banking clients was being restricted to her home by caregivers.
A similar concern was notified to police by the victim’s wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith.
Both banks told police that red flags were going up for this client.
They said that the client had written personal checks, totaling around $50 thousand to a woman named Mar Jeannie Benedetto.
There were also questions regarding a convertible BMW that was purchased from CarMax because their client no longer drives.
Police determined that the victim did own a BMW, but it was sold to CarMax, not bought from them. The CarMax manager told police that Benedetto brought the car to them and asked for cash for it.
When police asked the victim about the car, she said she had never seen it.
The CarMax manager gave police a handwritten Power of Attorney. Police sent this to the victim’s daughter, who confirmed it wasn’t her mother’s handwriting, but it was her signature.
The victim also told police that Benedetto was a carpenter that was paid to renovate her home.
She told police that Pelkey was her caregiver.
The wealth management advisor told police that they became suspicious when the victim shied away from talking about her transactions because she had never done that before.
They also told police that Benedetto or Pelkey had changed the victim’s locks on the house while she was on a trip. The advisor had heard this was done through a call with the victim.
On June 16, 2017, police met with a social worker that visited the victim after being notified by the bank about their concerns. The social worker told detectives that when she met with the victim, there were two women at the house.
One of the women left, but the other refused to leave. The woman also wouldn’t provide her name to the social worker, only identifying herself as the victim’s caregiver.
On June 20, 2017, police applied for a search warrant for the victim’s Bank of America account to examine transactions conducted by Benedetto and Pelkey.
In August, police went to the victim’s home and a woman answered the door. She told police she was hired as a caregiver by a company named Visiting Angels and was with her client daily.
The woman told police that once she leaves the victim’s home, the victim is monitored on surveillance cameras by a woman she knew as “Sweet.” She said she also knew the woman as “Sandy,” who claimed to be the victim’s sister.
In September, New Haven Police received an email from Bank of America regarding five additional transactions. Checks were made to Benedetto that totaled $72,870.
Two $10 thousand checks were made out by the victim and were found to be made out to R&J Custom Tile, which is owned by Benedetto.
More checks, from January to June, from the victim’s account, bringing the total to just under $116 thousand cashed by Pelkey and an additional $40 thousand was charged to Benedetto’s tile company.
Police found that over $300 thousand was accessed by Benedetto and Pelkey between 2014 and 2017.
Through investigation it was found that for about 10 years, Pelkey and Benedetto scammed the victim out of more than $800 thousand.
According to the warrants, the victim was controlled by Pelkey and Benedetto. They had the key lock access of the victim’s home switched to a programmable keypad, so they could have access.
The victim passed away on April 5, 2018.
New Haven Police remind people to be aware of their finances and alert police of any suspicious activity.
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