Casper Woman Charged With Stealing Nearly $50,000 from 89-Year-Old Man
A woman made her initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court on Thursday, where she faces two felony charges after allegedly taking nearly $50,000 from an elderly man.
Tamara Kay Voelker, 58, is charged with grand theft and exploiting a vulnerable adult. She could face up to 20 years in prison and have to pay $20,000 in fines if convicted on both counts.
According to court documents, the victim told a Casper police officer that he had known Voelker for several years and she had become his caregiver after his wife passed away. The victim said Voelker helped with his with his finances, at first just by writing checks for his monthly bills.
She evidently took on a greater role over time. When the victim's daughter-in-law told police in April 2016 that she suspected Voelker of exploiting the victim, she alleged that Voelker was having the victim pay for her rent and utilities, as well as charging items to his credit cards without his knowledge.
The daughter-in-law also accused Voelker of stealing the victim's prescription pain medications.
But when the victim was confronted about checks issued to Voelker, he reportedly told family members that he willingly allowed Voelker to access his bank account and make charges on his credit cards. He also said, according to a police affidavit, that he was aware of every charge Voelker made.
The victim's score on a test given by a Wyoming Department of Family Services worker indicates the victim may have dementia, though at the time he had not been examined or diagnosed with dementia by a doctor.
Court documents say the case was closed, with no follow-up.
After the victim's family helped close all of his accounts and reopen new ones where needed, Voelker allegedly called the victim wanting money.
One of the victim's daughters told Voelker to leave the victim alone, according to the affidavit. She reportedly told the daughter that the victim bought the things in question for her and had signed a letter saying as much.
Voelker told the daughter that she was not responsible for any of the bills according to that letter, court documents say. The daughter reportedly had never seen a copy of the letter.
On June 29, 2016, the victim's daughter-in-law again called the Casper Police Department and said the family had done a much more thorough audit of the victim's finances and found more money that was allegedly misappropriated to Voelker.
The daughter-in-law again alleged that Voelker was stealing the victim's medications. She reportedly said she believed the victim didn't need the pain medication hydrocodone because he wasn't in any pain.
When her husband -- the victim's son -- asked the victim about the hydrocone, the victim reportedly said he didn't know what the drug was and denied having the medication.
A detective looked over the victim's financial records and found a multitude of payments allegedly made by Voelker on the victim's accounts.
Those payments include charges to Barnes & Noble, NutriSystem and Walmart, as well as utility bills, insurance payments and a charge to Casper College.
Transactions on the victim's credit cards include charges to Charter Communications, a medical facility called Pain Consultants and an auto insurance company that the victim did not use, according to the detective's affidavit.
The detective also found 25 suspicious transactions on the victim's checking account that were believed to benefit Voelker in the amount of $16,537.80.
Those transactions include 18 checks to Voelker from Jan. 16, 2015 through March 11, 2016, totaling $14,771.02 as well as payments to Whites Mountain Motors, a bank the victim did not use, another check to Charter Communications with "TV" written on the memo line, and a check to a woman for $550 with "Tami Voelker" filled in on the memo line.
Court documents say the detective found several reports in the Casper Police Department's records system regarding Voelker, the victim and prescription pain medication.
Within those records are three separate instances where Voelker reported stolen medication.
In 2014, she claimed to have left her purse in her unlocked car and reported 326 pills of oxycodone, percocet, oxycontin, hydrocodone and lexipro were stolen.
She also claimed that the victim's medications were stolen from his mailbox on two different occasions and off the kitchen table in his home. She reported a total of 172-180 hydrocodone and 90 omeprazole in total missing in those instances.
A case from 2009 showed that Voelker tried to get a prescription for the painkiller Tramadol from Sage Medical Group, but was denied the prescription after saying she had problems with prescription drugs in the past.
Another case from February 2016 showed that Voelker was on a pain contract with Mountain View Regional Hospital and repeatedly asked for early refills.
The hospital asked her to bring in her medications for a surprise inspection, and all three pill bottles Voelker took in were found to contain fake pills including an over-the-counter headache medicine, Vitamin B and an unknown non-narcotic.
The hospital terminated her contract, but she asked them to reconsider, saying "I don't know how I am going to make money."
A warrant was requested for Voelker at that time for prescription fraud. As of her initial appearance Thursday, Voelker is not charged with any drug crimes.
In August 2015, Voelker reported the victim had been scammed, sending a total of $3,050 to different people thinking he'd get money back.
In that case, an officer spoke with the victim. The victim reportedly said he wasn't aware he was involved in any scam. Court documents say he had to be reminded by Voelker about meeting up with a man at a bank the week before.
The victim reportedly did not recall any of the details.
Ultimately, the detective tried to speak with Voelker in September, but she wasn't home. The next day, Voelker called the detective and said she wouldn't speak without her attorney.
Court documents say Voelker "recklessly and intentionally obtained control through undue influence" over the victim -- "a vulnerable adult" -- money and assets, "with the intention of permanently depriving him of the ownership, use and benefit of his money."
From Jan. 13, 2015 through April 30, 2016, Voelker allegedly took $48,471.30 from the victim.
During her initial appearance Thursday, a public defender was appointed to represent Voelker.
Her bond was set at $5,000 cash or surety, and Voelker was ordered to have no contact with the victim or his family and to accept no employment as a caretaker.