Woman accused of stealing thousands from elderly, disabled patient

HOUSTON – A Houston in-home caregiver has been charged with felony theft from the elderly.

If the allegations are true, Leatrice Monique Johnson, 44, may have targeted the wrong person. The victim in the case is a retired federal judge.

Harold Demoss Jr., 84, served on the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit. He was appointed in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush and retired earlier this year.

Johnson, who has a series of aliases, is accused of writing unauthorized checks for more than $25,000 total out of Demoss' account.

A family member discovered the withdrawals during a routine review, and notified authorities.

"When (my sister) noticed his account was down she searched it and found eight or nine different transactions. She called me said didn't know what to do," Chip Demoss said.

Relatives of the victim discovered the theft after finding eight checks had been cashed from his account.

Investigators said Johnson had been cashing the checks from Nov. 1 through Dec. 18. When she was arrested, she was found with one of the checks in her possession, totaling more than $3,700, investigators said.

The younger Demoss contacted authorities, and Johnson was arrested on Friday.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office said that the holidays are the right time to make sure that older relatives are being cared for properly, and that includes their finances.

"This is way too common. It's way too easy for elders who are isolated from others," Mary McFaden, assistant district attorney, said.

Johnson was placed in the Demoss home by a company called Top Notch Healthcare Assistance LLC, of Houston.

The company's CEO said Monday he is reviewing his background check procedures, but that his company did perform a background check and did not find the two decades of convictions.

A snapshot of her criminal convictions include theft, welfare fraud, credit card abuse and forgery.

"Under the "ID" we had this individual never showed up, " John Garner, CEO of Top Notch Healthcare Assistance LLC, said.

Garner may be right. Johnson has used a number of aliases over the years.

Currently, background checks for in-home caregivers for the elderly are not required to provide fingerprints.

"That has to change," Chip Demoss said.

Johnson was held without bail Friday stemming from a previous charge.