The 77-year-old heiress hired Pamela M. Blood to help her keep track of her finances.
“I was a widow,” the heiress said. “I didn’t want to put everything on my kids. I wanted to get someone to do the billing and things.”
Instead, authorities say, Blood, 56, a paralegal at Hiscock & Barclay’s Buffalo offices who took on the task for the widow as a side job, began writing out checks from the widow’s accounts to herself.
Over seven years, Blood stole more than $311,000, officials said.
Blood stole to finance her husband’s business and to gamble – a pastime that made her “feel good,” according to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
Blood pleaded guilty Wednesday to grand larceny in the second degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree before Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk.
The elderly woman hired Blood after her husband died. She learned that something was amiss while taking care of unrelated financial matters with her son, who realized that a lot of money was missing from her accounts.
Suspecting embezzlement, they contacted Assistant District Attorney Candace K. Vogel, who specializes in cases of financial elder abuse.
Vogel directed two investigators from the DA’s Office, Anthony Costantino and Mark Stambach, to question Blood, who eventually confessed. The thefts occurred from August 2005 until Sept. 3 of this year.
Blood pleaded guilty to the highest charges for the crimes and could face up to 19 years in prison when sentenced Jan. 24.
Officials at Hiscock & Barclay told The Buffalo News that the thefts from the heiress “occurred outside her employment” at the law firm. They also said she is “no longer employed by the firm.”
The widow called the ordeal “a heartbreaker.”
“I trusted her,” said the widow, who asked to remain anonymous but agreed to be interviewed by The News because she wants to warn other senior citizens about financial abuse.
“Nobody suspected it,” she said of the embezzlement, adding that she believes that the thefts are even larger than the amount to which Blood pleaded guilty.
“She confessed she’s a gambler,” the widow said. “… God bless her. I hope she gets into a program.”
The widow warned others to be careful about their money.
“I heard a quote once: ‘Trust, but verify,’ ” she said.
She urged people who entrust others to keep track of their finances, even if they’re family members, to keep tabs on what’s going on.
“Look at me,” she said. “I’m not a stupid bunny.”