Linda Grandel, 57, of Cedar Hill Road, Brookfield, was charged with larceny in the first degree after two investigators from the Connecticut Department of Social Services came to Brookfield police in April to repot a case of potential fraud.
According to documents filed with Danbury Superior Court, a trust had been set up in 2003 for Amy Grandel, now 34, with her mother, Linda Grandel, as the trustee.
The fund was established as a result of a medical malpractice suit. According to the affidavit, Linda received incorrect medication during her pregnancy when a doctor confused her with a patient in the next room. The mistake allegedly lead to Amy being born with cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.
The trust was established with $134,410.21 in November 2003, with monthly payments of $2,760 from an insurance settlement. Linda Grandel also received a separate payment of $80,000, which she said she deposited in the trust, bringing the total accrued funds in the account to somewhere over $530,000.
“Preliminary investigation suggested that Linda has spent the majority of the existing trust on unauthorized expenses which are not for Amy’s benefit,” the affidavit states, adding later that only 629 out of thousands of charges made to the account since April 2008 were related to Amy’s care.
The potential fraud came to the attention of Social Services when a department staffer realized the account had never been audited. The staffer said she contacted Grandel to get an accounting of her expenses and purchases, however Grandel allegedly refuse to provide any.
According to the investigation, Amy holds two part-time jobs and lives at a group home in New Milford the majority of the time, though she spends approximately one night out of every 52 at her mother’s home on Cedar Hill Road in Brookfield.
A representative from the home told police that Amy has a separate bank account for the money she makes from her jobs and that Linda would call ahead before visits to make sure Amy withdrew spending money from that account.
During an interview with Brookfield police, Linda Grandel told detectives that she would purchase things for Amy using her own money then reimburse herself by paying off bills. She also stated that she thought property taxes and homeowners insurance payments were covered under the terms of the trust.
The trust documents state that property taxes and homeowners insurance were payable out of the fund while Fleet Bank was a co-conservator on the home, however the trust was explicit on the timeframe and did not cover these expenses when sole ownership was transferred to Linda.
When all tallied, investigators determined that Grandel made unauthorized purchases from the trust in total of $173,751.06, with the major areas being:
- $861.10 to nail salons, only one day of which investigators could confirm that she picked Amy up from the group home;
- Electric bills, totaling $663.58;
- 28 checks made out to hair salons, only three corresponding to days Linda picked up Amy, totaling $3,059.37 (pro rated to account for some approved charges);
- Total of 60 charges related to unauthorized home maintenance, totaling $39,268.09;
- 44 charges to Sears totaling $28,453.59;
- 44 checks to Jennings Oil Company for oil deliveries, totaling $13,229.91.
Amy’s brother, Michael Grandel, allegedly pilfered from the account, as well.
According to the affidavit, Linda Grandel attributed $20,181.97 in payments to Capitol One to Michael, who gained access to the account without her knowledge. Linda said she set it up as a loan for $17,000, with monthly payments of $600, to avoid having to report him to authorities.
Grandel said she only makes $17,000 a year at her job as a paraprofessional at Brookfield High School and can’t get another job because “she wants to spend time with Amy.”
Officers also discovered a point-of-sale charge for $1,359.13 made in South Dakota in July 2010, as well as a $6 charge for “United Air INFLT” made seven days later. Grandel was unable to account for those charges.
Grandel has yet to enter a plea in the case and was released on a written promise to appear at her next court date on Sept. 6.