A 33-year-old Laramie woman was charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult this week for abusing her power of attorney to take the assets of a man who lives at Spring Winds Assisted Living.
Stacee Cushatt was arrested and faces a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
The Laramie Police Department began investigating the case after the Wyoming Department of Family Services reported that more than $100,000 had been depleted from the victim’s bank account.
According to DFS, the man apparently showed up at a Wells Fargo branch, confused about where his assets had gone.
The man lived at Spring Winds because he has “an acute illness where he could not care properly for himself,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Believing he was close to death, the victim gave power of attorney to Cushatt, who’s also responsible for the man’s finances and medical needs.
In November 2018, Cushatt sold the man’s house and deposited $118,598 into a trust account.
Cushatt then allegedly began transferring money from that trust account into another account where she “utilized funds for personal expenses, travel and pay.”
Spring Winds staff told police that there was $8,000 in unpaid rent for the victim that Cushatt was responsible for paying.
Bank account records suggested that Cushatt had spent most of the past year using the man’s funds for her personal needs, and then failing to pay for his.
During pre-election forum held by the Laramie League of Wyoming Voters in September 2018, both Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent and Sheriff David O’Malley said that exploitation of vulnerable adults is an under-addressed issue in Albany County.
Trent said that the issue would a priority of her current term.
“At this time, we don’t see many cases coming through the prosecutor’s office, and I know they exist out there,” she said at the time. “In my next term, if elected, it’s my intent to start establishing protocols and having training and education. Right now I think that’s the main issue: Education. ... When we do get theses cases, they can be very difficult to prosecute. A lot of them involve family members.”