MIAMI – Prosecutors released information on Wednesday about the evidence detectives found after suspecting a 56-year-old woman took advantage of an 84-year-old widower for years in Miami-Dade County.
Detectives accused Maribel Torres of preying on her victim while making funeral arrangements after his wife died in 2019. To gain his trust, the Maspons Funeral Home employee pretended she and her son were relatives from Cuba, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Detectives and prosecutors accused Torres of manipulating the widower — who has Alzheimer’s disease and advanced dementia — into giving her access to his legal and financial matters and transferring ownership of his mortgage-free home of 40 years.
“Utilizing a wife’s death and an obvious impairment as tools to steal an elderly man’s home would seem to be a new low in alleged criminal conduct,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement on Wednesday.
Torres and her son were living in the victim’s home when a nephew who lived in Palm Beach County showed up to visit and became suspicious enough to report them to authorities, according to police. Investigators reported the suspicious transactions were in 2020 and 2021.
“Situations like this expose the ugly face of elderly exploitation which targets the frailest members of our community,” Fernandez Rundle said.
State and county records show Torres registered 5811 SW 25 St LLC as a Florida corporation on Nov. 3, 2020, and transferred the ownership of the home at 5811 SW 25 St., in Miami-Dade’s Coral Way Heights neighborhood on Nov. 10, 2020.
There was a balloon mortgage on the victim’s property for $100,000 and a business loan for $360,000 —utilizing the home as collateral, according to prosecutors with the elderly exploitation task force.
The investigation included a bank account with Torres and her son as the only authorized signers. In 2021, from March 23 to April 8, there were $118,000 in cash withdrawals and $104,627 in deposits in that account, police said.
“Our community will not stand for crimes in which our elderly are exploited,” MDPD Interim director, George A. Perez, said in a statement.
Officers arrested Torres on Tuesday. She is facing charges of first-degree felony exploitation of the elderly or disabled over $100,000, first-degree felony grand theft over $100,000, and third-degree felony organized scheme to defraud. She was released on a $25,000 bond on Wednesday.
Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Wilson Louis contributed to this report.