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Caregiver charged with stealing $770,000 from elderly Kirkland woman

The caregiver of an elderly Kirkland woman was accused of stealing more than $770,000 to support her gambling habit.

King County prosecutors charged Edmonds resident Temalesi Marama Morgan, 47, with 22 counts of first-degree theft in Superior Court Feb. 25.

Shortly after she was diagnosed with dementia, the elderly woman hired Morgan through the Visiting Angel employment agency in 2006, according to charging papers.

The woman's son and daughter became concerned about her finances when she insisted on paying her own bills, right after she hired Morgan. The woman's daughter convinced her to give her power of attorney.

An audit of the woman's finances found nearly $200,000 in cash had been withdrawn from the woman's accounts at ATM machines near several casinos, including the Silver Dollar in Totem Lake and Goldie's Casino in Shoreline, according to charging papers.

In addition to supporting her gambling habit, Morgan also stole more than $37,000 to pay for her boyfriend's rent on his condo and used the woman's accounts to pay Morgan's credit cards bills, long-distance phone calls to Fiji, where she is from, and trips to Alaska and Ocean Shores.

The woman had given Morgan permission to use her debit card for groceries, cigarettes and cat food.

Morgan was arrested in a traffic stop at Woodinville Juanita Road on Feb. 18.

Morgan told police she had a "gambling problem and that it was an illness," according to charging documents. She also said she "was sorry for betraying (the woman's) trust."

Morgan is being held in King County Jail instead of a $500,000 bail. Her arraignment is scheduled for March 9.

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