NORTH HIGHLANDS, Calif. – Two California officers are being investigated on allegations of stealing money from a 75-year-old woman with dementia, a list of her home for sale and put her on a plane to the Philippines, where they had family.
Neighbors and friends on Friday described Rosalie Santallan Achiu as a weak military wife who loved to play cards, and was fluent in several languages, but seemed lost and afraid because her husband died more than a year ago.
Then she is gone.
“The last time I saw her she was in the back of a police car,” neighbor Daniel Wootton said.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department said this week that it began with the investigations of the delegates in late January after someone her concern about the well-being of Achiu, who had not seen it in a few days.
The federal and sheriff’s investigators found her in the Philippines, where they stayed with relatives, the department said. They also found “a lot of special activities by both deputies, both on-and off-duty.”
Stephanie Angel, a 14-year agency veteran, and an unknown male deputy were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of “the criminal and administrative investigations,” the department said.
Angel’s lawyer, Richard Chan, said that she was acting in Achiu the best interest and did everything on Achiu of the request.
“There was no financial abuse that has taken place,” Chan said. “She was assisting this lady and this lady would like, there is absolutely no financial benefit to Deputy Angel.”
Achiu met the delegates in mid-January during a call for service, according to the court documents obtained by Sacramento news station KTXL-TV .
Shortly thereafter, they moved to Angel’s home, Michael Abrate, a lawyer for Achiu the family, said in a petition asking the court to give permission to a nephew to the care of Achiu.
The course of the following weeks, Achiu the house was on the list for the sale, the various recordings were made from her bank accounts and one deputy opened a joint bank account with Achiu, the lawyer said.
The delegates also accompanied Achiu to her bank and had to drill out the locks of her safe deposit box. They then enter a request for a passport for Achiu on a website called RushMyPassport.com, Abrate said.
Achiu, who has no children or other relatives living in California, “suffers from dementia, lacks the capacity to resist fraud or the giving of informed consent,” he said.
Neighbor Nyairee Fitzpatrick described her friend as an independent, but something of an oblivious potter. She and others said: Achiu had spoken of sending a number of possessions to the family in the Philippines, but wanted to live with a brother in the state of Washington.
“The agent came … and as emptied her entire house,” she recalled, standing outside Achiu the vacant house with discarded furniture stacked in the driveway.
The representatives were granted power of attorney and appointed agents on her life will be on Jan. 30. Days later, one of them bought a one-way ticket to the Philippines for Achiu, who came Feb. 3, Abrate said.
The researchers found her there on Feb. 14, and she told him that she wanted to return to the US. She is in a hospital since Feb. 21, when she returned to California, her family’s lawyer said.
Achiu and her husband, who met while he served in the army abroad, visited casinos and restaurants where everyone seemed to know them, old neighbors Jo and Randy Osborn said.
They struggled after he died, but had a series of roommates to keep her company before she called for the delegates as a result of problems with one of them, Randy Osborn said.
“They took her,” Jo Osborn said of the deputies. “That was awesome, and she was sent to the Philippines, that is really crazy.”
Chan, Angel’s lawyer said that his client took Achiu to doctors who believed they did not have dementia and it was fine to travel. The angel took the power of the lawyer because Achiu was not the concern for self — living in a dirty house and sleeping in a chair, ” he said.
Chan provides a department letter of recognition that he said Angel received in January for the help of Achiu.
He is also suspicious of the Sheriff of Scott Jones of engaging in a “smear campaign” because Angel recently alleged sexual harassment within the department. She sued Jones, then a captain, and three other staff members in 2007 over similar claims that are settled.
A spokesman for Jones and the department, Sgt. Zach Hatch, declined to comment, citing the investigation.
Angel never talked to Achiu the family for sending her to the Philippines, but she spoke after her arrival, Chan said. Before her on the plane, Angel gave Achiu copies of her medical records and contact information in case something went wrong.
Chan has not a clear explanation for why Angel felt comfortable sending Achiu abroad only.
“All I can say is that they did what Rosalie wanted her to do,” the lawyer said.
Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne contributed to this report.