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Iowa mother and daughter charged with theft

John Mangalonzo, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –

Des Moines County prosecutors have charged a Burlington woman and her daughter, accusing them of abusing a mentally handicapped man they were supposed to be caring for and stealing more than $50,000 from him.

Formal charges of first-degree theft and dependent adult abuse were filed against Cindy Dameron, 54, and Jodi Dameron, 35.

Each face 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

The case came about after a six-month investigation, which started when District Court Judge Cynthia Danielson discovered discrepancies in documents the women were supposed to be filing.

The mother and daughter were appointed executors for Robert Luth, an elderly man who also is mentally handicapped. Cindy Dameron was executor from June 2006 and was removed by court order in September of 2010.

Jodi Dameron took over as executor but was removed shortly thereafter.

Authorities said during that time, the Damerons controlled Luth’s finances, which included the man’s Social Security benefits and money left behind by his mother, who died in May of 2006.

The investigation indicated there were two main accounts where money was being deposited and withdrawn by the Damerons.

Detectives subpoenaed bank records and gave it to a financial analyst for review and found the Damerons took more than $50,000 from the man’s bank accounts from 2006 to 2011.

There also are large sums of money spent at local department stores, detectives said, adding the women could not produce any receipt from the purchases and could not explain where the merchandise went.

The money allegedly was distributed in checks written to the women.

Luth’s main monthly bills were his rent, telephone and television. His Social Security checks should have been sufficient to pay his living expenses, authorities said.

Luth reportedly told investigators the women only checked on him once a month, and they rarely gave him more than $10 in cash. He said his cable and telephone were frequently turned off for nonpayment of bills.

He added his neighbors would bring him canned goods because he always ran out of food.

Two neighbors, detectives said, informed authorities Luth once told other neighbors the Damerons insisted he stay inside his apartment and not to come out.

Dennis Zegarac of the Area Agency on Aging was appointed as new executor and told detectives that since taking care of the man, everything seemed to be in order, including prompt payment of his monthly living expenses.

Zegarac said new clothes had to be bought for Luth because the man has been gaining weight due to having enough food to eat.

The public defender’s office has been appointed to represent the Damerons in the case.

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