PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – A 39-year-old is accused of embezzling funds from a woman’s account one day after the victim passed away, court documents state.
Kera Denise Avery is charged with 37 counts of identity theft and one count each of criminal mistreatment in the first degree and one count of first-degree aggravated theft. She was arraigned in Multnomah County Circuit Court Friday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Authorities said she is also known as Kera Denise Johnson.
According to investigators, Troutdale Police Detective Daren Tabor learned that the victim’s stepdaughter had made a report that $20,000 had been taken out of an investment savings account that belonged to her stepmother who passed away at the age of 75 on January 25, 2014.
The victim’s husband, an 84-year-old man, suffers from dementia and was living with the stepdaughter following the victim’s death, court documents state.
According to police, a company that specializes in home care for the elderly had been taking care of the victim and her husband in their Troutdale home. Several employees worked 12-hour shifts, court documents state.
According to bank records given to police the transactions on the bank account started January 26, 2014 – one day after the victim had passed away, court documents state. The transactions ended March 8, 2014.
Police learned that Avery had worked at the care company since mid-January 2014 and was assigned to care for the woman and her husband on three days between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m., court documents state. Avery, without noticed, stopped coming to work on March 2, 2014, police said.
Police talked with the manager of the investment company who told them all purchases using the debit card linked to the account would need a PIN. The manager provided police with a transaction list of all the purchases made.
Purchases were made at Fred Meyer, Best Buy, Arby’s restaurant, Goodwill, Lloyd Center Mall, Portland General Electric and Northwest Natural Gas, court documents state.
Officers were able to obtain video from some of the locations and compared the video to Avery’s driver’s license.
When Taber contacted Avery she reported said she knew why she was being contacted by police: “It’s because of the card used,” court documents state. She acknowledged to taking the card the day after the victim had passed away, court documents state.
Avery told police that she would buy items with the victim’s card and then trade the items for pills, court documents state.
Avery was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center.
According to court records, Avery was arrested in Beaverton.
A grand jury is expected to review the case later. Her next court date is scheduled for August 11, 2014.