Caregiver denies stealing $220K
Cora Dela Rosa testifies in her trial over allegations of taking money
A former caregiver denied yesterday that she stole $220,000 in 2004 from her elderly employer who moved from Honolulu to a retirement home in Mexico.
Cora Dela Rosa, formerly Cora Malinis, testified yesterday during her trial for first-degree theft that Marjorie J. Carr gave her the check after closing a bank account in April 2004.
When Dela Rosa protested that it was too much money, Carr told her to "just keep it, don't have to worry, just put it in your bank and don't tell anybody," Dela Rosa, 43, testified before Circuit Judge Michael Wilson.
Carr died at age 82 in June 2004 about a month after moving to Mexico, and family members hired a private investigator to find out why checks Carr wrote in Mexico were bouncing. The information was turned over to police and prosecutors.
Prosecutors contended that Dela Rosa defrauded Carr.
Deputy Prosecutor Paul Mow said the $220,000 check was in addition to what Carr already paid Dela Rosa for services. Their relationship was not personal, but a working relationship, so there was no reasonable explanation for giving her such a large amount, he said.
Why would Carr give away money when a year before she left for Mexico, she was asking people for money and trying to raise money by selling off her furniture from her former residence? Mow asked.
When asked by different people why Carr gave her the money, Dela Rosa gave differing responses, ranging from Carr owing her money to giving her the money, Mow said.
Defense attorney Scot Brower argued that Carr intended to give Dela Rosa the large check because Dela Rosa provided care that even Carr's daughters who lived on the mainland were not willing to provide.
The daughters allowed her to go to Mexico when they did not know anything about the retirement home. One of the daughters went on vacations to Europe but could not afford to visit her own mother for two years, Brower said. The daughter even told a police detective that her mother did not need to be in a wheelchair and that she was only looking for attention, he said.
"Cora did what you would expect a daughter would do for their mother," Brower said.
Dela Rosa said on the witness stand that she did not know why Carr gave her the money. She said she asked Carr twice if she was sure she wanted her to have the money, and both times Carr told her to keep it.
In discussing the $220,000 cashier's check that Carr had endorsed without writing "for deposit only," Mow asked Dela Rosa if she saw that as an opportunity to take the money for herself.
Dela Rosa replied, "Yes."
It was not until Carr died that Dela Rosa started spending the bulk of the money, Mow said. She bought a new $30,000 car, paid off a $10,000 loan for a Toyota 4Runner and withdrew $50,000 to purchase a certificate of deposit at First Hawaiian Bank.
There is no evidence that Carr intended the money to go to Dela Rosa, either in her will or in statements made to anyone, and no one saw Carr give Dela Rosa the check, Mow said.
"It's a case of a crime of opportunity and an opportunity that was taken by the perfect caregiver, Cora Malinis (Dela Rosa)."
Dela Rosa is also named in a lawsuit by one of Carr's daughters accusing Dela Rosa and others of defrauding Carr of her money.