Cops: Wife Duped Husband for Years, to the Tune of $600K

Donna Marino's spouse didn't have Alzheimer's but she made him think he did to control his money
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2021 3:35 PM CDT
Updated Oct 31, 2021 8:45 AM CDT

For two decades, a Connecticut man says he let his wife handle virtually all of his finances for him, a move he apparently felt even more necessary once he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. At least, he thought he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. East Haven police say that's only what he was told by his wife, Donna Marino, so that she could swipe $600,000 or so from him over the long haul, per NBC Connecticut. Cops says Marino would forge her spouse's signature on all of his pension and Social Security checks, as well as on workers' comp settlements and other legal paperwork.

Marino would then take any money she took out of those transactions and deposit it in a hidden bank account, police say. She's also alleged to have pawned some of his jewelry and rare coins, and to have become his power of attorney by having a notary public pal sign off on the paperwork when her husband wasn't there. To keep her spouse from going to the bank to check his balances, she started telling him he had Alzheimers, insisting he'd been diagnosed and forgotten about it, per WFSB. Marino is 63; police did not specify her husband's age.

"She was making up stories ... telling him that he was running around the house chasing her" and didn't remember doing it, says Elena, the man's daughter. It was Elena who noticed her dad's credit score start to drastically drop, and more red flags popped up when she found a tax lien on his house; when she tried to call her father, his number had been rerouted to his wife's phone. Elena notes that her dad likely believed he had Alzheimer's because his own mother had had it, and he feared getting diagnosed himself. She says telling her father he was broke at the hands of his own wife was terrible. "Imagine your father crying to you," she says. "It was awful."

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Police say Marino's husband was made aware of the scheme by March 2019, and one year later, he showed up at the East Haven police station with an unnamed individual to "report a large-scale fraud," Capt. Joseph Murgo tells the New Haven Register. The husband told police that he'd wanted to think about his options—hence the year delay in reporting Marino after he'd discovered what she'd done. After an arrest warrant was issued, Marino, who's been hit with first-degree larceny and third-degree forgery charges, turned herself in to police on Wednesday. She was held on a $25,000 bond and saw her first court hearing on Thursday. Elena, meanwhile, tells WFSB she's helped her dad move to Florida. (More Alzheimer's disease stories.)

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