Slovan woman accused of stealing $300,000 from elderly woman

June 17, 2014

A Slovan woman was arraigned Tuesday on charges of theft and theft by deception after investigators said she stole more than $300,000 from an elderly Smith Township woman over a three-year period.

Goldie Catherine Fields, 42, of 33 McNair Ave., was arraigned before District Judge Gary Havelka and released on $50,000 unsecured bond after turning herself in at his office.

The elderly woman’s family contacted the Area Agency on Aging about the theft. James McElhaney, chief detective with the Washington County district attorney’s office, said he and District Attorney Gene Vittone regularly meet with agency staff to review cases in the event a criminal investigation may be warranted.

Fields contacted the 82-year-old woman in early May 2010, claiming she had been given her telephone number by their church. Fields allegedly asked the woman for financial assistance, claiming she needed money to become certified as a licensed practical nurse and better herself.

The woman agreed to help Fields, meeting her several times in the Slovan area and giving her $40, $70 and then $100. Fields reportedly continued to ask for money. The victim gave her two checks over a two-day period totalling $700.

Fields then asked the woman to give her only cash because she did not have a bank account, making it difficult to cash the checks. Fields promised to pay back the money when “she got back on her feet.”

Fields also led the woman to believe she worked as a certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home and was going to lose her job if she did not secure the LPN certification. She told the woman that unless she paid for her school, she would never be able to pay her back. The 82-year-old offered to pay the school directly, but Fields told her the school did not accept third-party checks.

Thewoman admitted to McElhaney that at one point, she knew she was in “over her head” with how much money that Fields owed her but she was “too ashamed and embarrassed and afraid” to tell her family. She believed that Fields would pay her back.

The woman and her family told McElhaney that Fields received about $310,000. Fields denied receiving that much money but admitted to taking between $80,000 and $90,000, according to court records.

Fields initially told McElhaney that the only money she received from the woman was in the form of checks. She later admitted to having met the woman 15 or 16 times to receive cash.

A hearing is set for June 25 before Havelka.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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