Trial begins in elderly exploitation case
A jury listened to opening arguments and the testimony of one witness Monday in the double trial of Gardnerville residents Terry Lee and Janis Elaine Foley.
The couple is accused of seven felony counts of theft and a felony count of exploitation of the elderly. The charges arose from a 42-month series of events during which Janis Foley was the trustee for the living trust of Florence Olsen, 94.
Court records say Janis Foley became a trustee for a living trust belonging to Olsen in October 1989. Olsen was a good friend of Foley’s adoptive mother, who had managed the trust for several months after the death of Olsen’s son, but became too ill to continue.
At the time Foley assumed trusteeship, records state, Olsen had a $110,000 stock portfolio, about $70,000 equity in her home in the Sacramento area and a monthly income of $1,260.
By March 1995, when she moved out of the Foleys’ Riverview Drive home and into a Dayton retirement center, Olsen had $1,000 left in assets.
Prosecutor Dina Salvucci opened her arguments by describing Olsen as a fairly self-sufficient individual.
“She sees to her own personal needs, walks without aid and is up on current events and the news,” Salvucci said. “When she lived with the Foleys, Florence fixed her own breakfasts and lunches and did her own laundry. She planted and kept a flower garden at the Foleys’ home. She’s a very sharp individual and she’s very angry that her money’s gone.”
The Foleys’ attorney, Patrick Gilbert, characterized Olsen as a manipulative “complainer who got bossy when she didn’t get her own way.”
Gilbert said Janis Foley became concerned about Olsen’s mental stability because Olsen allegedly had violent mood swings and, at least on one occasion, allegedly struck the Foleys’ then 5-year-old son.
The only witness to testify Monday was Dr. B. Bottenberg, a physician Janis Foley had asked to evaluate and declare Olsen incompetent.
Bottenberg testified he had examined Olsen on three occasions and found “absolutely no sign of any dementia whatsoever.”
“There was no evidence of metabolic problems, no disorientation,” Bottenberg said. “She counted backwards from 100 by sevens without any difficulty.”
He said he did not write the letter regarding Olsen that Janis Foley had requested of him.
“Everything was completely normal,” Bottenberg said, adding Olsen remembered “to this day” a series of objects he had asked her to commit to memory on her first visit.
A total of nine witnesses are scheduled to be called in the case which is to be over Friday.
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