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Roseville woman ordered to pay $223K in restitution

Matzke

NEW ULM — A 71-year-old Roseville woman was ordered to pay $222,890.61 in restitution for the financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, her mother, after sentencing in Brown County District Court earlier this month.

Linda L. Matzke received a stay of adjudication Feb. 4 for the felony of financial exploitation and depriving a vulnerable adult of property or resources for the benefit of someone else.

Two felony counts were dismissed. They were related to wrongfully obtaining assistance by false statements and concealment, medical assistant fraud and attempted theft of public funds.

Matzke was ordered to serve 150 days of local confinement, 120 days of which may be deferred by the court. She may do Sentence to Service in jail due to jail policy. Jail time must be served in three separate segments.

She was ordered to pay restitution before fines, fees and surcharges; serve 20 years supervised probation, attempt and successfully complete budget counseling, follow all recommendations and pay all fees.

Matzke may not act in a financial or fiduciary capacity for another person while on probation.

According to court documents, Brown County Collections/Fraud Investigator Preston Cowing received information about a 100-year-old Medical Assistance (MA) recipient in long-term care at Oak Hills Living Center in New Ulm since December 2014.

Prior to that, the elederly woman lived at Valley View Manor in Lamberton and has a primary diagnosis of dementia. Her daughter, Matzke, has power of attorney and has been the primary decision-maker regarding the person’s financial affairs and health care issues.

A vulnerable adult report was made by Oak Hills on Nov. 13, 2018, with concerns of the financial decision making of Matzke for her mother. The report read that the mother received more than $1,000 a month in Social Security income plus farm rental payments of $45,000 a year.

However, the mother was $40,000 behind on her bill at Oak Hills. Matzke was at Oak Hills on Nov. 13, 2018, and made a $6,000 payment but said she was taking out a $17,000 loan from her mother to help keep her from being evicted from her home. Matzke would pay off the balance owed to Oak Hills when she refinanced her home.

The mother began receiving public assistance (PA) in June 2013. A PA records review showed the case was served by Redwood County and Social Security and farm rental income were reported.

However, there was a loan repayment to Wanda State Bank that was being repaid at $15,000 every six months and the full amount was claimed as a credit against rental income.

In his investigation, Cowing learned the line of credit was opened in October 2011 for “payment of nursing home care as needed.”

However, the mother did not go to Valley View Nursing Home until Oct. 30, 2012. By that time, the credit line was nearly maxed out.

Cowing discovered that only about $20,000 of the roughly $100,000 that was taken out from the loan was used after the mother entered the nursing home. This is not an appropriate deduction against a client’s rental income for MA purposes.

Cowing requested bank statements for the mother’s accounts and learned that from January 2013 through November 2018, more than $350,000 was moved into and out of her checking account.

Cowing discovered that nearly $175,000 was used for obligations not incurred by the mother. The MA application completed by Matzke asked if any assets or income were transferred in the past 60 months. A small amount was noted once. The $16,000 loan was reported only after a vulnerable adult report was made.

Reviewing transactions, Cowing discovered some of the payments were made for the legitimate needs of the mother and her nursing home care. However, Matzke was using the account fo her needs as well.

There was more than $100,000 in an open line of credit loan with Wanda State Bank, more than $45,000 in payments made directly to Matzke or cash, $5,657 to Parkview Estates (Matzke’s apartment complex), more than $2,000 to Coborn’s grocery store and more than $2,000 for car repairs and dental work.

The mother has no car that needed repair or teeth that needed dental work, and her food was provided by the nursing home.

The nearly $175,000 in improper transfers created $49,345.01 in MA ineligibility for the mother from June 2013 to February 2018. The responsible party for the improper transactions is Matzke.

Cowing discovered that Parkview Estates had multiple conciliation court judgements against Matzke for failing to pay her homeowner’s association fees. Several of the judgements were satisfied shortly after the $5,657 payment from the mother’s account was paid to Parkview Estates.

Other judgements Matzke had with Parkview Estates were also satisfied after she paid $15,272 from the mother’s account on Oct. 10, 2018.

On Jan. 9, 2019, Cowing sent a request for Matzke to meet to discuss the PA caseon Jan. 17, 2019. Matzke failed to meet with Cowing or make contact to reschedule.

Cowing was aware that New Ulm Police Department Investigator Chris Moellenhoff was also investigating financial exploitation against a vulnerable adult claim that led to the same conclusions as Cowing’s.

Moellenhoff interviewed Matzke and learned she used her mother’s fund for her own purposes. Matzke admitted she commingled funds and admitted to struggling financially. She claimed the mother was aware of every transaction, but admitted the latter had issues with diminished mental capacity,.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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