Miles City Woman Pleads Guilty to Elder Exploitation

Miles City Woman Pleads Guilty to Elder Exploitation

DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation Provided Audit that Lead to Successful Prosecution

Attorney General Tim Fox announced that a Miles City woman who recently pleaded guilty to exploitation of an older person received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay more than $94,000 in restitution to her victim’s estate.

Del Linda Frost, 60, of Miles City was arraigned on charges of theft of property by embezzlement and the exploitation of an older person, both felonies, on January 3, 2019 in Montana’s 16th Judicial District Court.  At a change of plea hearing on October 28, 2019, Frost pleaded guilty to exploitation of Arthur Yamada, now deceased, in Custer County between March 10, 2014 and March 14, 2018.  At a sentencing hearing on December 16, 2019, Judge Michael Hayworth ordered Frost to pay $94,075 in restitution and sentenced her to ten years in Montana State Prison, suspended.

“This case was especially troublesome, given that the defendant worked in a law office and should have had the best interests of Mr. Yamada in mind when she was appointed as his conservator,” Attorney General Tim Fox said. “Instead of acting conscientiously, Ms. Frost viewed Mr. Yamada as a tempting target and began embezzling his life savings almost immediately.  Financial exploitation of seniors is a serious crime; one we must all guard against.  I commend the nursing home business manager who alerted authorities when she suspected something was wrong, as well as my Division of Criminal Investigation’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Custer County Attorney’s Office for their diligent work on this case,” Fox added.

Frost was appointed temporary full conservator of Yamada on March 10, 2014; she became his permanent co-conservator on January 22, 2016.  On August 23, 2017, the business manager of the nursing home where Yamada lived informed Miles City police that an $8,400 check from Yamada written by Frost had bounced.  Frost wrote two more checks totaling $14,382 to the nursing home; those checks also failed to clear.  Additionally, Frost wrote several checks from Yamada’s checking account for cash, which emptied the account and left Yamada unable to pay for his care.  Frost also closed two certificates of deposit totaling almost $40,000.  To cover the loss, Frost transferred funds from Yamada’s other bank accounts. To explain the checks issued for cash, Frost claimed they were for Yamada’s monthly allowance and items for his personal use.  Frost was unable to explain why nearly $94,000 was missing, and resigned as Yamada’s co-conservator on March 14, 2018.  Yamada died on August 2, 2018 at the age of 97.

The investigation by the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) began on October 17, 2017, when the Miles City Police Department requested assistance from DCI’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.  “The Custer County Attorney’s Office and I thank Auditor Cody Strietzel and Supervising Agent Debrah Fosket of DCI’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their detailed audit report,” said Deputy Custer County Attorney Shawn Quinlan.  “Their audit of Mr. Yamada’s finances demonstrated that Ms. Frost issued checks for ‘cash’ in the amount of $94,075 from Mr. Yamada’s financial institutions that was unaccounted for, which ultimately allowed us to charge and successfully prosecute this exploitation case,” Quinlan added.

Documents related to the case can be found here:

Charging Documents

Judgment and Sentencing Order

Background:

In 1995, the Montana Legislature created the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which became operational the following year. It is dedicated to investigating Medicaid patients’ quality of care and ensuring public funds go only to those health care providers who provide legitimate services.

Medicaid is a jointly funded, federal-state health insurance program for low-income people. It covers children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled and other people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments. Medicaid provider fraud occurs when a Medicaid provider knowingly makes, or causes to be made, a false or misleading statement or representation for use in obtaining reimbursement from the Medicaid program.  A “provider” refers to doctors, hospitals, dentists, clinics, counselors, or any other entity that Medicaid pays to serve its members.

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