Grand Jury Hands Out Indictment In Elderly Theft Case

SNOW HILL – A Worcester County Grand Jury earlier this month handed down a six-count indictment including theft, theft scheme and forgery on a West Virginia woman who allegedly embezzled roughly $150,000 from an elderly Ocean City man in her care.

Scharma Louise Hayes, 41, of Martinsburg, West Va., was indicted by a Worcester County Grand Jury on May 5 after evidence presented revealed a pattern of theft and forgery carried out over several months in 2007 on a wealthy, elderly man in her care in Ocean City. The victim apparently took Hayes into his confidence and occasionally provided her with extra money, but she ultimately took advantage of his generosity and her access to his financial accounts and allegedly bilked him out of about $150,000.

The grand jury reviewed the evidence and indicted Hayes on May 5 on six counts including three counts of felony theft, one count of felony theft scheme over $500 and two counts of forgery. The indictment was sealed until an arrest warrant could be served on Hayes. She was served the warrant last Wednesday and was taken into custody before being released last Friday on a $10,000 bond.

The grand jury indictment illustrates a pattern of theft and forgery carried out over several months in 2007 during a time when the victim’s health became an issue and Hayes allegedly had a lot of unrestricted access to his finances. The single largest charge is the felony theft scheme over $500 charge which reveals a pattern of theft carried out between May 8, 2007 and Dec. 16, 2007, during which Hayes absconded with nearly $116,000 in currency.

The other charges deal with specific transactions Hayes made during her theft spree. For example, on May 15, 2007, Hayes forged the victim’s signature on a check drawn on a Sun Trust Bank account made payable to herself in the amount of $1,625. In another forgery count, Hayes allegedly forged the victim’s signature on a Merrill Lynch CMA account made payable to an unknown person, Kaylee Hseih, in the amount of $12,500.

The three felony theft charges deal with specific examples of Hayes stealing cash from the victim. For example, one count shows Hayes allegedly made off with $4,300 in cash from the victim on July 12, 2007. Another shows Hayes stole roughly $14,700 in cash from the victim on Aug. 11, 2007. She allegedly struck again two weeks later, stealing roughly $3,800 in cash from the victim on Aug. 31, 2007.