Former long-term care ombudsman charged with stealing money from resident

Share this content:
Mary E. Pfingston (Photo: Kane County State's Attorney's Office)
Mary E. Pfingston (Photo: Kane County State's Attorney's Office)

An Illinois woman has been arrested after allegedly attempting to steal more than $15,000 from an assisted living resident while serving as a long-term care ombudsman.

Mary Pfingston, 41, was arrested Thursday and charged with felony elder theft, theft of $10,000 to $100,000, financial exploitation of an elderly person and three counts of public contractor misconduct.

Authorities began investigating Pfingston in 2015 after receiving a complaint that said she had made “several suspicious transactions” from the bank accounts of an assisted living resident she was representing. Among the reported transactions were an attempted wire transfer of $15,000 and cashing a $4,000 check, the Chicago Daily Herald reported.

Pfingston had been employed by Senior Services Associates, which was contracted by the Illinois Department of Aging to provide ombudsman services, according to the newspaper.

Bette Schoenholtz, executive director for Senior Services Associates, declined to comment to McKnight's Long-Term Care News about the specifics of the case, but stressed that residents, family members or staff who see “anything unusual” in a long-term care facility should report it to authorities or the ombudsman program in order to protect residents.

If convicted Pfingston faces up to seven years in prison; she's scheduled to appear in court Dec. 15.