Local retirement home workers accused of taking $750k from woman with dementia

It was an unthinkable crime.

“Top to bottom, wholesale corruption going on for more than a year, that I've never seen before,” said Charles Golbert.

Court-appointed guardian Charles Golbert takes care of Grace Watanabe's finances. The 97-year-old woman spent two years in a Japanese internment camp, then worked for decades and saved up a million dollars. She is now a victim of dementia, with no living relatives. According to a lawsuit filed in September, she is also a victim of several employees at the Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park retirement home where she lived. Her lawsuit initially claimed they stole $600,000. Now, her attorneys say they actually stole $750,000.

“The theft at Symphony was going on for a year, and it involved five employees, ranging from the director at the top, and the activities director at the top, to the hairdresser, and the receptionist at the bottom,” Golbert said.

Golbert said Thursday that one of the employees accused of stealing $15,000 from Watanabe has agreed to pay her back. The guardian also says he wants nursing home experts from the law firm of Levin and Perconti to help try the case.

Partner Mike Bonamarte says Watanable was the perfect target.

“She trusted this organization to provide certain services and she was taken advantage of,” he said.

A spokesman for Symphony Residences told FOX 32 the facility was shocked to learn that a resident was giving large sums of money to employees, and that it bans workers from accepting large gifts. He added that the suspected employees are gone and there's no allegation that the facilities owners or executive director took any of her assets.