Woman accused of stealing from elderly neighbor

Police: Used Social Security checks on jewelry

NASHUA – A Nashua woman is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly neighbor, using some of the money to buy items from the Home Shopping Network and Jewelry TV.

Deborah Bernard, 51, of 57 Tyler St., was supposed to be helping her downstairs neighbor, Robert Parks, by buying his groceries, making sure his rent got paid and purchasing his medications, according to the affidavit filed in Nashua district court from Nashua Police Det. Joseph Rousseau. Parks is 81 and reportedly suffers from dementia.

The New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly Adult Services contacted police in March about suspicious banking activity going on in Parks’ checking account, according to Rousseau.

Investigating the matter, Rousseau reports that police discovered Parks had Bernard put onto his bank account to make it easier to spend the money for his necessities. Looking through the withdrawals and the purchases, however, officers found more than $3,000 in cash withdrawals, transfers or spending that did not appear to benefit Parks.

Bernard reportedly spent more than $700 buying items through the television shopping network, Rousseau reports.

A little more than $1,200 a month in Social Security is the only income Parks receives, according to Rousseau.

Vera Welch, Parks’ ex-wife, also contacted police, saying she tried to intervene by setting up a new bank account for Parks that only he had access to. Before he could get his first Social Security check into that new account, Bernard brought Parks to a different bank, and set up a different account that she could access. She then withdrew about half of his monthly income, according to Rousseau.

Bernard was arrested Thursday and arraigned on Friday. She was held on $1,500 cash bail, and ordered to stay away from Parks. She is charged with financial exploitation of the elderly, a Class A felony that carries the possible prison sentence of up to 15 years. She is due back in court on July 20 for a probable cause hearing.