AG's Elder Abuse Team uncovers financially exploited victim in Weston

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 1:34 PM CDT
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The Wisconsin Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Team has identified two suspects in the financial exploitation of an elderly Marathon County resident.

Ramona Bartell, 64, and Melissa Bublitz, 42, are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a woman during a span of three years.

An exact dollar amount was not identified as some receipts and documents were missing from investigative reports, however, court documents said during a 21-month span the woman’s expenses exceeded $571,000. Prior to that period, her expenses had been under $50,000.

An investigation began after corporate guardians appointed to legally protect the woman believed the victim’s previous power of attorney was misusing funds.

A special agent combed through thousands of pages of transactions. While some were for the woman’s legitimate expenses, such as power lift chair and home improvements, many other items purchased were questioned that they would be for an elderly woman.

Court documents state Bubliz was the woman’s power of attorney from October 2014 to June 2017. She was then removed by a judge. Investigators said Bartell and Bublitz lived together at one point in Ozaukee County.

Investigators said suspect purchases included Disney timeshares, Coach purses and a subscription to a dating website for Disney lovers called ‘Mouse Mingle’.

When questioned, the women said the extravagant purchases were from the woman for her family and caregivers. However, a special agent said previously the woman would write $25 checks for birthdays as gifts and it was unlikely her spending habits would have changed that drastically.

Both women are charged with two counts of theft related to the allegations. They are both free on $10,000 signature bonds and will return to court June 25. That’s when a judge will rule if there is enough evidence for their cases to head to trial.

The victim died earlier this year.