The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 4, 2013

Woman charged with exploiting vulnerable adult

MANKATO — A Mankato woman has been charged with taking thousands of dollars from a man suffering from dementia and using some of that money to travel, visit casinos and hire an Elvis impersonator.

Erna Krahn Schroeder, 78, faces three felony counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Charges were filed this week in Blue Earth County District Court. The charges stem, authorities say, from her relationship with an 80-year-old Mankato man.

In 2007, Schroeder's name was added to the man's checking account. In that same year, she was given power of attorney over his finances. That year, $106,000 of the man's money was spent. And between 2007 and 2012, nearly a half-million of his money was spent. During those years, authorities say, Schroeder had access to his money.

"From January 2007 through January 2012, over $300,000 of cash was taken out of (the man's) checking account by ATM and checks written out to 'cash.' During that same time, there was no ATM activity on Schroeder's checking account," court documents say.

Authorities say they have witnesses who say Schroeder would pay them to drive her to casinos, and others who say Schroeder carried large amounts of cash. They also spoke to an Elvis impersonator who says Schroeder paid him $7,000 to perform several shows. From May 2010 until December 2010, authorities say there were thousands of credit-card charges from the man's account for hotels, airline flights and casinos.

The day after the man was declared incapable of participate in his own estate planning, authorities say Schroeder used her power of attorney to add herself to the man's will. In 2010, after Blue Earth County Human Services received a complaint of possible financial exploitation and tried to interview the man, Schroeder's action reportedly led the human service workers to contact law enforcement. Schroeder reportedly refused to allow the man to speak with human services workers.

Schroeder was released after being arrested last week.

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