RNJ News Department

Warren County woman abuses her ‘Power of Attorney’, found guilty of stealing over $100K

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. (Warren County) – A 59-year-old Warren County woman, who had Power of Attorney, has been found guilty of stealing over $100,000.000.

On Wednesday, October 12 Frances M. Wise, 59, of Phillipsburg, N.J. was found guilty of three separate second degree charges by a Warren County jury in Superior Court, First Assistant Prosecutor Michael McDonald said.

Wise was specifically convicted of second degree theft, second degree misapplication of entrusted property as a fiduciary and second degree theft by deception.  These convictions stem from a theft of over $100,000.00 from the victim, Mrs. Josephine Bacskai, 87, of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, McDonald said.

From March 2009 through September 2013, Wise acted as Bacskai’s Power of Attorney, in charge of the victim’s finances. This power only allowed Wise to act in a manner that was for the use and benefit of Bacskai, McDonald said.

It was discovered later through a detailed investigation, that Wise depleted the Bacskai’s saving account in an amount over $30,000.00.  The investigation further revealed that Wise took out two separate mortgages on the victim’s home, her only remaining asset, and subsequently depleted those funds in an amount over $90,000.00, McDonald said.

The State presented evidence that the victim never requested, needed or received any of the over $100,000.00 of her money within the one year it was all rapidly withdrawn.  The bank records obtained as part of this investigation, and later submitted as evidence in the trial, revealed that some of the money had been withdrawn from ATM machines located at Sands Casino in Bethleham, PA and Mount Airy Casino in Poconos, PA, McDonald said.

Bacskai testified at trial and part of her testimony to the jury included that she has never been to either casino in her life.  Bacskai’s current Power of Attorney, Lisa Marinelli, who initially discovered and reported the theft after she took over the duties in 2013, also testified at the trial, McDonald said.

Wise is scheduled to be sentenced on December 9, 2016 before the Honorable H. Matthew Curry, J.S.C. Wise is subject to 10 years New State Prison on each Second Degree count.

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By: Jay Edwards
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