An Oak Harbor man is accused of stealing more than $500,000 from his 90-year-old mother over the course of eight months and blowing it all at casinos, according to court documents.
Prosecutor charged 67-year-old Steven A. Larsen in Island County Superior Court Sept. 18 with eight counts of theft from a vulnerable adult in the first degree.
In six of the counts, the prosecutor alleges aggravating circumstances that could allow a sentence beyond the standard range of four years and nine months to six years and three months in prison. Specifically, it’s alleged that the crimes were major economic offenses with multiple incidents over a long period of time, monetary loss substantially greater than typical for the offense and an abuse of a position of trust.
Detective Sgt. Jenn Gravel with the Oak Harbor Police Department started investigating the case last November after an employee at a local bank reported concerns about withdrawals from the woman’s bank accounts at casino ATMs in Skagit County.
The detective’s report states that the victim suffers from dementia and was unable to understand officers’ questions about her bank account, the report states.
The detective obtained the woman’s bank records, which showed they were drained over the period of April to November 2022.
In May 2022, for example, there were 44 withdrawals of $1,000, one withdrawal of $700, nine withdrawals of $500, three $200 withdrawals, seven $100 withdrawals, one $80 withdrawals, six withdrawals of $40 and 11 withdrawals of $20 from an ATM at the Skagit Casino. In addition, withdrawals were also made from ATMs at the Swinomish Casino, Oak Harbor grocery stores and Walmart that month.
In all, ATM withdrawals in May 2022 totaled $62,740. The amount of the withdrawals increased the following months and caused account overdraws, the report states. In all, Larsen stole about $580,000, according to police.
The detective contacted the police chief at the Swinomish Police Department, who said Larsen was kicked out of the casino in August 2022 for disorderly behavior, the report states.
The detective wrote that Larsen is a live-in caregiver for his mother, who does not leave the home. Larsen allegedly admitted to the detective that his mother didn’t know he was spending her money at the casinos. He said she would give him a list of items for the grocery store and her credit card for him to do the shopping, the report states.
The detective visited the house in February with Adult Protective Services and found the condition of the house had deteriorated, with feces smeared in a hallway and no running water, the report states. The woman appeared thinner and was in soiled sheets. The detective called an ambulance to bring the woman to a hospital for an evaluation.
“Larsen didn’t seem to care,” Gravel wrote, “and when the ambulance arrived he got his cell phone and plugged in some ear buds and began to listen to music.”