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An 86-year-old woman allegedly tricked a fellow Florida nursing home resident, a 99-year-old “catastrophically disabled” man, into giving her $10,000, according to the Eustis Police Department.
Not long after the man died, his son noticed the suspicious transaction and reached out to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, according to a probable cause arrest affidavit obtained by Law&Crime.
The son saw his father had sent a $10,000 cashier’s check to a woman named Cynthia Milligan, which struck him as odd because he never heard of her before, the affidavit said. The man’s son believed his father was being exploited and was not competent enough to provide that kind of cash to anyone because of his age and physical ailments. Veterans Affairs ruled the man a “catastrophically disabled veteran” who was legally blind and 80% deaf, the affidavit said.
Staff at the Lake Ridge Village nursing home in Eustis, which is about 40 miles northwest of Orlando, told the man’s son that Milligan was an “ambassador,” meaning she would help fellow residents with their mail, setting up appointments and coordinating events within the facility. The man’s son found this concerning because Milligan would have access to his father’s mail, which contained the checks he was receiving from the VA.
When the son contacted Milligan, she told him she didn’t think the man had any family. The son also found this troubling, which led him to believe Milligan exploited his father because she didn’t think he had any family who could intervene, according to the affidavit.
Bank subpoenas showed Milligan deposited the $10,000 cashier’s check at United Southern Bank in Eustis on May 5, 2022, when she had only $8 in her account, the affidavit said. Just 11 days later, she wire-transferred the $10,000 to a person named “Deborah Gresham Lobban.”
A teller at the bank told Eustis police Det. Adam Adbelmessih that she did not recall the cashier’s check transaction, but she did know Milligan. The teller said Milligan’s account had to be closed because she kept trying to cash in checks that would bounce or had insufficient funds, the affidavit said. Bank employees confronted her about this, but Milligan was evasive, saying she “had a boyfriend in China,” the affidavit said.
Adbelmessih learned Milligan had moved away from the nursing home, but was able to set up a meeting with her at the Eustis Police Department on July 7. Milligan allegedly explained that she and the victim had become friends after she moved to a room near his in the facility. She told detectives the man asked her to take him to the bank so he could complete the $10,000 cashier’s check because Milligan had “saved his life and wanted to repay her.” Adbelmessih asked how she saved his life but she couldn’t come up with an answer, the affidavit said. She also said she had already spent the money.
Milligan also told the man to lie to the teller about what the money was for so the transaction could be completed, according to the affidavit. Adbelmessih also asked who “Deborah Gresham Lobban” was.
“Cynthia became visibly nervous and stated it was just somebody she knew of, hesitant to explain anything further,” Adbelmessih wrote in the affidavit.
Milligan went on to say that while she never met Lobban in person, she spoke to her online and sent her money because she felt bad for her because of her health problems. Milligan claimed she deleted all of their correspondence and wouldn’t provide any of Lobban’s biographical information, Adbelmessih wrote.
When Milligan met with Adbelmessih again on Aug. 8, she gave a completely different story. She said she had been talking to a man online who works on an oil rig and she explained he told her that he needed some money to fix some broken-down equipment. She claimed the man gave her Lobban’s bank account information and Milligan deposited the money into the account.
Adbelmessih asked Milligan why she was dishonest during their first interview.
“Cynthia would not provide an answer, just stating it was really hard for her to be dishonest with me,” Adbelmessih wrote. “Cynthia refused to show me any messages between her and her boyfriend and would not provide me with any other info to include his name address, phone number, etc.”
Milligan continually refused to provide any information on the boyfriend and eventually said he was mad at her and they were no longer speaking, according to the affidavit.
Adbelmessih also interviewed a nurse practitioner at Lake Ridge who said Milligan and the victim were not close at all and he was often rude to Milligan, the affidavit said. The nurse believed Milligan was exploiting the man.
The nurse said the man “was very frugal with his money” and there was no way he would “ever do such a thing, especially for $10,000,” according to the affidavit.
Milligan was arrested Monday on charges of exploitation of an elderly person and grand theft. She has since bonded out of jail and has pleaded not guilty to the charges, records show. Her next court date is scheduled for Oct. 16.
Reached on the phone by Law&Crime on Thursday, Milligan declined to comment.
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