Miami woman known as “Liberal Sherpa” charged with kidnapping, financial exploitation of 88-year-old mother

Catherine Areu Jones. (WPLG)

MIAMI – A Miami woman and former periodic Fox News guest known as the “Liberal Sherpa,” was arrested Friday on accusations that she kidnapped and financially exploited her 88-year-old mother, prosecutors announced.

According to a press release from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Catherine Areu Jones, 51, is facing a host of felonies, which include kidnapping, elderly exploitation and organized scheme to defraud.

Investigators say they believe Jones may have made off with more than $224,000, including the missing disbursement of the proceeds of a reverse mortgage of her mother’s house in which all the money appeared to go into accounts controlled by Jones.

Miami-Dade police detectives had been trying to arrest Jones since June when a judge signed a warrant for her arrest.

According to the press release, she is believed to have been evading arrest and even took off to Mexico at one time.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle inferred that these types of crimes happen far too often with a blood relative.

“Every incident of alleged elder exploitation or abuse touches our heart and never fails to shock us,” she said. “It seems particularly harder to understand when the alleged perpetrator of the exploitation is a daughter, or a son or another blood relative.”

Prosecutors said Jones tricked her mother into believing that she was going on an “ice cream outing” with her granddaughters, but she was then locked into an assisted living facility.

Detectives said the mother was able to call someone she knew for help before Jones instructed the facility to stop her from using the phone or receiving visitors.

Investigators said in another incident, Jones and a co-conspirator allegedly dragged the victim from her home and took her to another facility.

Jones allegedly used a revoked Power of Attorney to “twice involuntarily place her mother in assisted living facilities so that she could take financial gain of her mother’s banking account,” the report stated.

According to the press release, Jones allegedly made complaints to DCF that her mother had “organic brain damage or dementia,” rendering the victim unable to adequately care for herself.

DCF adult protection investigators and medical doctors found Jones’ claims to be untrue, which led to the victim’s release from the facility, according to the report.

Detectives said that the initial investigation focused on the use of a quitclaim deed to turn the title of the victim’s home over entirely to Jones.

Investigators said that the elderly mother denied ever signing the document.

Authorities also said that credit cards were opened in the victim’s name and noted that there were multiple banking withdrawals that the victim denied making.

Jones is facing charges of:

• 1 count - Exploitation of the Elderly - 1st Degree Felony

• 1 count - Organized Scheme to Defraud – 1st Degree Felony

• 1 count – Conspiracy to Commit Organized Scheme to Defraud – 2nd Degree Felony

• 1 count -Kidnapping – 1st Degree Felony

• 2 counts -False Imprisonment – 3rd Degree Felony

• 1 count – Fraudulent Use of Personal Identification – 1st Degree Felony.


About the Author:

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.