LYNNWOOD — An elderly Lynnwood couple gave their grown daughter access to their finances so she could make sure they were cared for in the last years of their lives.
Instead, police and prosecutors allege the woman exploited that trust to pilfer a half-million dollars for herself. She reportedly used some of the money to buy land in Jefferson County and a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe.
Krisel T. Andersen, 59, of Port Townsend, was charged May 2 with first-degree theft. Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Christopher Sedgewick charged the case in a way that opens the door for a judge to give Andersen an enhanced sentence in prison if she is convicted.
A sibling of Andersen’s contacted Lynnwood police about a year ago, after noticing discrepancies in their parents’ finances. Their parents’ annual tax returns were missing information that been previously reported.
At the time, Andersen’s mother was 86 and her father was 92. Her father since has died.
Over the past year, Lynnwood police detective Scott Dilworth built a case scrutinizing the woman’s transactions from various banks and financial companies, he said.
The alleged thefts took place over several years starting in 2008. Most of the transactions happened in Snohomish County.
Dilworth, who’s assigned to Lynnwood’s Criminal Investigations Division, specializes in financial crimes. He’s also a member of the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force out of Seattle.
Before Dilworth was hired at Lynnwood in 2003, he’d worked in business and information technology consulting, he said.
“I like following the money,” he said. “The history paints a story about what happened.”
The Andersen case is one of the biggest in Dilworth’s career in terms of the amount of money allegedly stolen, he said.
Even now, it’s still unclear what happened to all of the cash, even after an outside forensic financial analysis by an Edmonds-based accounting firm, he said. The purpose of the forensic analysis was to identify places where money went missing.
“Did it reappear in another account or was it gone?” he said. “If it was gone, you could determine it had not gone to the benefit of the parents.”
Dilworth spent months obtaining search warrants for bank records, property titles and related documents.
The investigation wrapped up in mid-April. Paperwork fills four three-ring binders.
Before Andersen’s father died, he and her mother both told the detective that their daughter didn’t have permission to use their accounts for herself. Dilworth asked the mother if Andersen should be prosecuted, court papers show.
The mother reportedly said, “She deserves it.”
The prosecutor cited three grounds for seeking exceptional punishment if Andersen is convicted: the amount of money allegedly taken, the vulnerability of the victims and the abuse of a position of trust.
Andersen violated not only the law but also her duty to her parents to protect them from harm, Sedgewick wrote in the charging papers.
“The direct result of her breach of duty was an unjust enrichment of money, goods and real property to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he wrote.
In spring 2012, Andersen was arrested in the case. She declined to speak with detectives and was released pending further investigation.
An arraignment is scheduled for later this month.
She has no known criminal history.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org