Frederica caretaker charged with theft of $50K

SMYRNA — A 52-year-old Frederica woman is facing 58 felony charges after a 17-month investigation into alleged home caretaker thefts and forgeries from an 84-year-old female patient, Smyrna Police Department said Wednesday.

According to police, Dawn R. Cirillo, of the first block of Hubbard Avenue in the Bowers Beach area, was contacted by authorities and turned herself in to face charges of unlawful use of a credit card (15 counts), second-degree forgery (22 counts), theft under $1,500 where victim is 62 years of age or older (20 counts), and theft of $1,500 or greater and where the victim is 62 or older.

Police alleged that approximately $50,003 was stolen from an 84-year-old patient from as early as August 2012 to July 2015.

Dawn Cirillo

Dawn Cirillo

Ms. Cirillo had been hired as the patient’s in-home caretaker, according to authorities, and was accused of forging checks and unlawfully using credit cards.

Investigation began in March 2014 when Smyrna police was contacted regarding suspicious activity in the patient’s checking accounts, credit cards, and money market accounts, authorities said.

According to police in court papers, it was reported that a Kent County bank “contacted Adult Protective Services with a suspicion of fraud after checks for large sums of money had been cashed by three separate female subjects who all claim to be caretakers of (name redacted).”

Delaware Department of Justice later contacted Smyrna police as an investigation began, spokesman Cpl. Brandon Dunning said.

Ms. Cirillo, also listed as Dawn R. Desomma in court papers, was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover and released on a $128,000 unsecured bond.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday morning in the Kent County Court of Common Pleas.

In court papers, Smyrna police said it was determined that Ms. Cirillo was hired to be a daytime caretaker Monday through Friday, and to be paid $360 weekly in a job that started in mid-July 2012. Police described her as a “private contractor.”

Police alleged that Ms. Cirillo “received checks from (redacted) for roughly 21 months and should have received 92 checks for a total of $33,120, but had actually received 204 checks for a total of $83,123,” according to court papers.

Police said the investigation is complete.

“As per all arrests the (Department of Justice) is made aware of the investigation and provided the necessary documents and evidence for the criminal case,” Cpl. Dunning said.

The length of investigation followed several other complex cases handled by Smyrna Police, Cpl. Dunning said.

Regarding elder abuse and theft allegations, the recent investigation was the most in-depth due to the “significant amount of money involved,” he said.

“Recently, we have handled several in-depth complex investigations that have taken more of an extended period of time by our officers,” he said.

“Some investigations such as this one required countless hours of reviewing hundreds of pages of financial documents, bank and credit card statements, and other evidence before an arrest warrant was obtained.

“Each case is very different in its own way … [E]ach one has its own twists and turns,” Cpl. Dunning said. “Some cases can be resolved rather quickly and others such as this one take a substantial amount of time.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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