A Bayfield woman who cared for the elderly was arrested Monday on suspicion of stealing thousands of dollars from a client.
Earlene Bara, 58, turned herself in about 11 a.m. on an arrest warrant obtained by the La Plata County Sheriff's Office. She was being held Monday evening in the La Plata County Jail on $10,000 bail. She is being held on suspicion of theft, forgery and crimes against the elderly.
Bara is suspected of forging several checks and cashing them for a total of $18,420, said James Locke, investigator for the Sheriff's Office.
The checks were allegedly stolen from Charles Blair, 90, of Durango, who died Dec. 19.
As a caregiver, Bara helped Blair pay his bills using a checkbook. It was unknown to him or his family that Bara was stealing checks, forging them and cashing them, Locke said.
Blair's son, Robert, discovered a discrepancy while reconciling the checking account, Locke said.
Several checks were cashed after Blair's death, he said.
Bara worked for Blair for about 18 months before his death.
In a phone interview Monday, Bara's husband, Turhan Bara, said his wife is innocent, and she took very good care of Blair.
On one occasion, Blair joked that if he were a younger man he would take Bara away from her husband for himself, Turhan Bara said.
"She didn't take any money, and the man adored her," Turhan Bara said. "She wouldn't jaywalk. If she saw a person drop a dollar, she would run and pick it up and take it to them."
After Blair died, Bara opened her own business, One Day at a Time Elder Care. Locke said there is a "very good chance" Bara has stolen from other clients, and anyone who suspects theft is asked to call him at 382-7020.