Cops: Caregiver, husband stole from bedridden man

James Halpin, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
·2 min read

Apr. 13—HANOVER TWP. — A home caregiver and her husband were charged Tuesday with racking up thousands of dollars of expenses using the financial cards of a bed-ridden elderly man.

Tiffany Shotwell, 30, and Shawn Michael Cook, 25, of 108 Westminster St., Wilkes-Barre, are accused of going on an $8,280 spending spree, buying cameras, cellphones and food as well as spending more than $500 at a teddy bear shop.

According to the complaint, Shotwell was a caretaker for the Scranton-based Valley Home Care and was responsible for caring for a 71-year-old cerebral palsy patient who is confined to his bed.

Police were dispatched to his home in the Lee Park section of the township the night of March 28 when Shotwell failed to show up for her shift. Another caregiver reported that Shotwell had been using the man's debit and credit cards for months without permission.

The victim told police he had given Shotwell permission to make some purchases on his behalf, including groceries and a freezer, but that she did not have authorization to make numerous other purchases on his cards, according to the complaint.

The man also reported that Cook would often accompany Shotwell at his home during her shifts, police said.

A review of bank records showed the cards had been used to make dozens of purchases, including thousands of dollars at area Walmart stores, $531 at Build-A-Bear Workshop, and numerous fast-food purchases, according to the complaint.

The total the pair spent during their shopping spree was $8,280, police said.

Surveillance video from the Walmart stores in Wilkes-Barre Twp. and Pittston Twp. shows Shotwell and Cook making large purchases of personal items that were never intended for the victim, police said.

During questioning, Shotwell admitted using the financial cards to make personal purchases, including buying a cellphone and iPods, police said. Shotwell apologized and said she would repay the money, police said.

Cook admitted to being with Shotwell while making the purchases, but said he had been holding onto the cards and suggested the use of the victim's cards "may have been a mistake," according to the complaint.

Police charged Shotwell and Cook with felony counts of access device fraud, theft, receiving stolen property and engaging in a criminal conspiracy.

Magisterial District Judge Joseph A. Halesey arraigned the pair on Tuesday morning and released them each on $50,000 unsecured bail.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 28.

Contact the writer: jhalpin@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2058