A nursing aide at a northern Minnesota assisted-living facility persuaded an elderly resident with memory problems to write 12 checks totaling more than $10,000 last year, then cashed them and apparently made off with the money, state Health Department investigators said Thursday.

St. Louis County prosecutors said they likely will decide later this month whether to charge the unnamed aide with felony theft, as police in Virginia, Minn., recommended. The aide was fired after the allegations surfaced last fall.

The aide was caring for a resident of the Edgewood Vista Virginia assisted-living facility -- the same home where Health Department investigators a month ago reported that three aides physically and emotionally abused some residents. The resident lived at the home for about two years and died last December.

In the earlier case, investigators said the aides pinched and slapped several elderly residents, called them abusive names and taunted one patient with dementia by saying her husband had died. The aides were fired. Police are still investigating that case.

In the case announced Thursday, state investigators determined that the aide financially exploited the resident between late May and late September last year. The aide persuaded the woman to write checks made out to her or to cash for groceries or Mary Kay cosmetics, even though the resident did not use cosmetics and ate all meals at the home, the report said.

When police and officials of the home interviewed the resident, she did not remember either the aide or writing out the checks. The aide denied the allegations during police interviews, and could not be reached by Health Department investigators.

A family member who had power of attorney for the resident noticed the unusual checks, in amounts from about $300 to $3,000, and notified the home and police. The home notified the Health Department.

Paul Clark, Edgewood's administrator, said in a statement that the home now complies with state regulations and has cooperated with state and local authorities. Though it was not found at fault in the financial exploitation case, the home was cited in the earlier abuse case for inadequate procedures for internal reporting of suspected maltreatment by staff members.

The home is part of a chain of 14 assisted-living facilities in five states and based in Grand Forks, N.D.

Warren Wolfe • 612-673-7253