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Guilty of stealing from sick seniors Neal Putnam | Sat, Mar 26 2011 12:00 PM

The former operator of two board and care facilities in Chula Vista has pleaded guilty to committing financial elder abuse involving a theft of more than $500,000 from a patient before and after his death.

Maria Corazon Park, 54, owned Park Crest Care Center, located at 245 Ash St., and Infinity Care Center, at 1023 Norma Court, both in Chula Vista before they were shut down by the California Attorney General's office in 2010.

She also owned Park Villa in El Cajon which is also closed.

Park has agreed to accept a three year term in state prison. Sentencing was set for May 2 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Kenneth So.

She pleaded guilty to stealing money from George Vickey, 89, who lived in one of Park's facilities before his 2005 death. Deputy Attorney General Carlos Chavarria said Park opened a new account in Vickey's name even after his death, saying "the account was opened to steal the rest of the money."

After two days of testimony in the preliminary hearing, San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Parsky ordered Park to stand trial Jan. 29 on 19 counts of money laundering, and five counts of financial elder abuse. Those counts were dropped March 3 after she pleaded guilty to one count.

Fred Figueroa, 91, lived in Park Crest before his death in 2008, and Park is accused of writing checks to herself for $50,000 from his account even after his death. According to testimony, Park called Figueroa's bank three days after he died in order to get $86,000 for buying real estate.

Bank officials asked to speak to Figueroa, but Park said he couldn't come to the phone. They refused to give her any more money, and discovered that he had died. Bank officials contacted state authorities and the case is being prosecuted by the California Attorney General's office.

Park was arrested Dec. 8, 2010, and remains in the Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility on $500,000 bail.

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