By Josh Moniz
---- — WASECA — An Owatonna woman is facing four felony charges of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult in Waseca County District Court.
Michelle Joslyn, 47, is accused of taking $10,250 and attempting to take another $13,000 from an elderly Waseca woman she met through a senior outreach program.
According to the criminal complaint, the Waseca Police Department was informed July 21, 2011, of the possible financial exploitation of Joyce Rocek, 88, of Waseca.
Rocek told police and a social service worker that Joslyn recently started helping her with “bank things.” When Joslyn was interviewed by a police officer, she said she met Rocek through her volunteer work with the nonprofit Southeast Minnesota Citizens Action Council. Specifically, Joslyn was working with SEMCAC’s now-defunct Contact program, which performed daily check-in calls to needy seniors. Joslyn said she frequently talked with Rocek during her calls and was eventually asked to meet her in person.
SEMCAC took over the senior outreach program from the Winona-based Contact when it closed about 2 1/2 years ago. SEMCAC ran the program for about a year before closing it due to lack of funding. SEMCAC officials said Joslyn was promptly dismissed from the program when they were contacted by Waseca officials during the investigation.
According the police report, Joslyn went with Rocek to Roundbank in Waseca on July 11, 2011, and had Joslyn added as a co-signer to Rocek’s checking and savings accounts. On the same day, a $800 check was written out to Joslyn from the checking account. On July 17, 2011, a $1,650 check was written out to Joslyn from the account. The memo portion of the check listed “air conditioners.” On July 18, 2011, Joslyn withdrew $3,000 from Rocek's savings account, according to complaint. Shortly thereafter, $4,800 was taken from the savings account via check with a memo reading “for taking care of you for six months.” Finally, Joslyn attempted to cash a $13,000 check from Rocek's account just two days later, but the bank declined to honor the check.
Rocek told police she'd never given Joslyn permission to access the funds in her account.
Joslyn also claimed to have gained power of attorney for Rocek and to have modified her will. Rocek denied both of these claims. Later in the investigation, Waseca police contacted Metlife and learned that all of Rocek's shares had been sold or closed. The person who requested the action had allegedly claimed power of attorney, and the check had been written out to Joslyn's address.
Rocek was very upset about hearing the information from the officers and said she had not authorized Joslyn to withdraw from her accounts, according to the complaint. “You are telling me that she has that much money from my accounts?” Rocek said. “I can't hardly believe that person would do those things to me.”
Joslyn told police she had known Rocek for seven months and had been given permission to access the accounts while performing care-taking duties. When asked about the $13,000 check, Joslyn said, “She has a right to gift out $13,000 a year,” according to the complaint.
Joslyn is scheduled to make her first appearance in court Tuesday.