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story.lead_photo.caption Patricia Ellen Richardson

TEXARKANA, Texas —A woman allegedly hired to care for a couple of elderly and disabled Texarkana women is accused of stealing more than $47,000 from them through fraudulent charges and unauthorized cash withdrawals.

Patricia Ellen Richardson, 48, was hired by a relative of the women in 2018 to perform housekeeping chores and provide rides to doctor appointments, according to a probable cause affidavit. Richardson's duties were later amended to include daytime caregiving.

The proceeds, $44,332.73, of the sale of an Atlanta, Texas, house were deposited into an account the alleged victims jointly held in March by a relative. Richardson was allegedly given a debit card to make necessary purchases at the grocery store and pharmacy and she was allowed to drive a Nissan Pathfinder owned by one of the women.

Richardson allegedly reported supposedly fraudulent charges as "daughter/granddaughter" of the women to Texarkana, Texas, police in May. Richardson allegedly claimed she didn't know who made purchases at businesses such as Target, Albertson's, Custom Car Care, Hobby Lobby, Harbor Freight, Family Dollar and online charges for games and gift cards.

Using video surveillance, investigators identified a suspect who reportedly told police she used the debit card with Richardson's permission. That suspect allegedly claimed Richardson allowed her to use the elderly women's debit card but that Richardson required her to "work the charges off" by performing the duties the elderly women's family was paying Richardson to perform.

"She said Richardson paid her $35 to $69 a day to clean and sit with the victims (11 hours a day) but said she was always 'working off charges.'"

The suspect denied making all of the fraudulent purchases and allegedly told investigators that Richardson was to blame. The family member who hired Richardson told investigators he was unaware that Richardson was having someone else stay with the elderly women.

Cash withdrawals were allegedly made by Richardson as well.

When confronted, Richardson allegedly claimed the debit card was stolen in March but allegedly admitted to knowing about some of the later purchases, making her claim about a stolen card appear dubious.

The woman who claimed Richardson gave her permission to use the debit card in exchange for sitting with the elderly women allegedly told investigators she met Richardson in prison. Richardson has a history of criminal convictions for theft.

In all, the allegedly fraudulent purchases and cash withdrawals total $47,703.22.

Richardson was arrested July 17 for exploitation of an elderly person. Richardson is currently being held in the Bowie County jail with bail set at $75,000.

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