CRIME

Police looking for Sandy woman charged with exploiting elderly woman with dementia

Apr 12, 2024, 2:17 PM

Woman accused of manipulating another woman with dementia....

An arrest warrant has been issued for a Sandy woman charged with manipulating an elderly woman with dementia and then cutting her off from family and exploiting her finances. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SANDY — An arrest warrant has been issued for a Sandy woman accused of manipulating a woman with dementia, cutting her off from her family and manipulating her financial assets.

Tiffanie Mackay, 59, was charged Thursday in 3rd District Court with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a second-degree felony, and intentional abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, a class A misdemeanor.

A lengthy 10-page probable cause statement filed by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office outlines how Mackay manipulated Gloria West for several years, “during which she took over the victim’s finances, isolated her from family and friends and became a power of attorney and alleged heir to her estate. (Mackay) caused severe emotional strain on the victim and the victim’s two daughters, who were both prevented from contacting the victim, particularly in the last few months of her life. (Mackay) allegedly monitored the victim’s phone calls, cut her phone connections altogether, restricted communications to one daughter to letters only, and prevented long-time friends and neighbors from visiting her as well.”

West died of cancer in September, three days after her 74th birthday.

In 2019, Mackay was hired at the same nonprofit West had worked at for nearly 20 years. West’s boss “observed Mackay manipulating and controlling Gloria more and more over time and taking over her duties,” according to charging documents.

Mackay resigned and West was fired in 2022, after it was discovered the women were falsifying records, the charges state. West’s boss noted to investigators that “Mackay’s control over Gloria caused an ‘honest and ethical person, and a caring mother to deteriorate into someone I know longer knew,'” according to the charges.

West’s daughter told police she believed Mackay convinced her mother to get rid of her cellphone and disconnect her landline, the charges state. One of the last times the daughter says she talked to her mother on the phone in December 2022, she “could hear Mackay whispering in the background telling her what to say and not to say.”

After Mackay moved into West’s home, West’s second daughter, who has autism, was kicked out, according to the charges.

“When (the first daughter) was with Gloria, she noticed Gloria repeating the same things multiple times and appeared confused. Gloria would also write the same things over and over on her notepad. Mackay also gained power of attorney over Gloria after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, despite (the daughter) being power of attorney previously,” according to the charges.

In February 2023, police say a doctor found signs of dementia in West and “determined that she was not competent to manage her personal or financial matters on her own.” In July 2023, West was hospitalized with a brain tumor. But when her daughter arrived at the hospital, Mackay was already in the room and the daughter was told that West did not want to see her, the charges state.

A friend also visited the hospital, and while Mackay was out of the room, the friend claims West asked for help.

“(The friend) provided an audio recording and believed Gloria was afraid of Mackay. (The friend) recorded her interaction with Gloria and provided the recording to (her daughter). In the recording, Gloria is heard stating, ‘Tiffany took my cellphone,’ ‘I don’t know where my phone is,’ ‘I want to go home,’ ‘Help me go home,’ ‘Help me,’ and ‘I want to talk to (my daughter),” according to charging documents.

By August 2023, both Adult Protective Services and Sandy police had become involved. An officer questioned West about a reverse mortgage taken out on her home. West gave conflicting answers and would make statements such as, “Not that I am aware of, but I may have, but if I have done them, but I have done them because it’s my own free will and that’s what I wanted to do,'” the charges say.

When West was diagnosed with a brain tumor, doctors at the hospital gave her treatment options. But after a private conversation with Mackay, “Gloria stated she would go home on hospice and wait to die despite medical records indicating the risks to be very low. (A hospital director) expressed shock at the decision and believed Mackay did not have Gloria’s best interests in mind,” the charges allege.

West died on Sept. 25, 2023. Her daughters say they were never notified of her declining health.

On Nov. 3, police served a search warrant on a dumpster outside of West’s residence.

“Items seized included numerous financial documents, including bank statements, retirement account statements, papers with account numbers, credit card statements and insurance information. Notebooks were also seized which included both Gloria’s and Mackay’s handwriting. Also found were family photos, family history recordings, baby jewelry from (the daughters’) childhood, and personal items,” the charges state.

A notebook that was seized appeared to have Mackay’s handwriting and outlined talking points that West was supposed to have with her daughters, according to the court documents. “The notes appeared to be prompts by Mackay to kick (one of the daughters) out of the home.”

A 2004 will was also found in the dumpster that left all of West’s assets to her daughters, according to investigators. There were additional notes that appeared to be in Mackay’s handwriting that made statements such as “write out a will” as well as instructions on how to handle a reverse mortgage, the charges state. Empty jewelry boxes that once contained West’s “extensive collection of precious and semi-precious jewelry,” a copy of a cashier’s check for $40,000 written to Mackay from West’s account after West died, and other copies of cashier checks were also recovered in the dumpster.

Police say on the day the search warrant was served, Mackay got on a plane and flew out of Utah. As of Thursday, her whereabouts were unknown, court records state.

Prior to the criminal charges being filed, several civil actions involving Mackay had also been filed in 3rd District Court. In July, West’s daughters attempted to gain guardianship of their mother. In October, Mackay filed legal action against the Sandy Police Department seeking the return of West’s cremated ashes, according to court documents. In her complaint, Mackay alleged that the detective investigating the case “believes that the change in estate plan is unfair to the decedent’s adult children and he is using his criminal investigation as a means of causing distress to Tiffanie.

“There has been no crime, so no harm has been suffered as a result of any crime,” the complaint alleges.

In November, West’s daughter filed a civil complaint against Mackay.

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Police looking for Sandy woman charged with exploiting elderly woman with dementia