GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – 48-year-old Tracy Gaye Mata could spend up to 14 years in prison if convicted on two felony counts of larceny. The caretaker from Lowell is accused by police of stealing thousands from a 91-year-old woman she was supposed to be looking after as a volunteer caregiver.
After the story was initially posted on fox17online.com one viewer felt compelled to share her own story in effort to protect others that could find themselves in similar situations.
Mandy Herzog said her 69-year-old father is spoiled rotten today, but it took a lot of money and time to get the family to this place.
Her father, Raymond Herzog, suffered an aneurism in 2001 and needed a caregiver. Eventually Herzog found Bruce Dougherty through a local agency.
“I thought, he’s another old man and they get along great,” she said. “They’ve been friends for years, no problems.”
Not long after hiring Dougherty, her gut told her something was wrong.
“Started noticing the lack of care, the lack of things in the home, stuff like that,” she said. “We’d make mention to others and they would say, dude. You need proof.”
After learning that her dad was six months late on rent she got a phone call, “This is Pam, from Area Agency on Aging, and we are just calling to let you know Bruce Dougherty is being investigated. There is accusations of theft and embezzlement of your father’s finances and lack of care in the home.”
Herzog started checking her father’s receipts and found $22,000 of her dad’s money was gone.
She pressed charges against her father’s caretaker. According to online court records Bruce Dougherty pled guilty to embezzlement and sentenced in April, 2012.
Herzog said while her father is doing better in her care, she hopes her story will encourage others to consider who they trust with the live of a loved one.
“Investigate,” she said. “Don’t go by the company you are hiring the caretaker through. Don’t go on how they say the person is. Have them in the home for a week or so and look at what they are doing. Come in every other day, find out what they are cooking, what they are cleaning, how they are acting around yourself and your loved one. You have to know.”
Online court records indicate Dougherty will be on probation until 2016 and has been ordered to pay the Herzog family restitution.