Largo woman arrested for bilking elderly man of $90K

Pinellas County deputies arrested a Largo woman Friday, alleging she took more than $90,000 from a mentally ill elderly man over a six-month period.

Kari Smith, 38, was charged with exploitation of an elderly person and two counts of criminal use of personal information. Her arrest resulted from an 18-month investigation into her relationship with David Waddell, a Clearwater resident who died in February 2015 at the age of 87.

Deputies say Smith, a legal assistant, befriended the impaired Waddell in 2014 when he enlisted the services of the law firm where Smith worked.  Smith allegedly entered into a private employment agreement with Waddell wherein she performed clerical work for him. Meanwhile, Smith obtained Waddell’s personal information and gained access to his bank accounts.

She used this, deputies say, to write checks and transfer large sums to herself. On one occasion, Smith allegedly used Waddell’s debit card to pay for a new roof for her home.

Deputies say Smith, who was initially interviewed on Thursday, took a total of $90,806.24 from Waddell before his family noticed inconsistencies in his estate. She is in custody at the Pinellas County Jail.

The investigation into her relationship with Waddell continues.


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