FANWOOD, NJ — A 52-year-old man has been arrested and charged with neglecting and stealing nearly $90,000 from an elderly Fanwood woman in his care over the course of nearly four years, authorities said.
Castor A. Toro, 52, is charged with second-degree theft, second-degree theft by deception, and third-degree abandonment or neglect of an elderly person, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo announced Thursday.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Special Prosecutions Unit of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office The Prosecutor’s Office began its investigation into Toto’s activities after receiving a referral from the Union County office of the NJ Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Patricia Cronin, who is prosecuting the case.
A comprehensive review of financial records and numerous interviews with friends, family members and neighbors of the 90-year-old victim revealed that, starting in approximately October 2016, Toro began siphoning money from the victim while living rent-free at her home on the 400 block of North Avenue in Fanwood, authorities said.. Over the course of nearly four years, Toro allegedly opened credit cards in the victim’s name without her knowledge or consent, used her existing credit cards for personal expenses, wrote himself checks from her bank account, and tricked her into writing him checks, claiming they were for “investments,” according to the prosecutor's office. In all, the theft amounted to nearly $90,000, the prosecutor's office said.
The investigation also uncovered a pattern of alleged neglect, showing that the defendant took steps to isolate the victim – limiting her access to others, cutting off her access to a telephone and, on at least one occasion, locking her in her own room, the prosecutor's office said. On another occasion, Toro allegedly transported the victim to an attorney’s office under false pretenses, where he coerced her into signing a will naming him as a beneficiary, the prosecutor's office said.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, members of the Special Prosecutions Unit and Fanwood Police Department executed a search warrant at the victim’s home, where they seized evidence of the crimes charged, the prosecutor's offie said. Toro was charged the same day, and he turned himself in to authorities Tuesday evening, after which he was lodged in the Union County Jail pending a first appearance and detention hearing to take place in Superior Court.
The victim was safely transported to the home of a relative, the prosecutor's office said.
Convictions on second-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by 5 to 10 years in state prison, while third-degree crimes can result in terms of 3 to 5 years. These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. Anyone who suspects that someone they know may be a victim of elder abuse is urged to contact their local police department or the New Jersey Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services.