Courtney Fultz's grandmother had already given Fultz her house in West St. Paul free and clear, according to court documents. Then the 33-year-old woman allegedly tried to get her grandmother's condo put in her name and took more than $77,000 from her grandmother's certificate of deposit.

Fultz is being prosecuted by the Ramsey County attorney's office's new elder abuse unit. She was charged Tuesday with felony theft by swindle. She is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 19 and could not be reached Tuesday to comment.

According to the criminal complaint:

St. Paul police were contacted in July by Dakota County Social Services about the financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult identified only as E.T.K. The 86-year-old woman suffers from memory loss and dementia.

Fultz received power of attorney over her grandmother's finances in January 2006, after she broke her arm and could not sign checks. On April 8, 2008, Fultz withdrew $60,000 from her grandmother's CD at Cherokee Bank in St. Paul. On June 27, 2008, she withdrew another $17,224.18 from the same CD. Bank officials were later contacted by E.T.K., who had not known about the withdrawals and early closing of the CD.

The grandmother told police she had given her granddaughter money for her wedding and for her children to go to school but nothing close to $70,000, the complaint said. E.T.K. then closed her joint accounts and transferred her money into her name only. She revoked her granddaughter's power of attorney on July 29.

In addition, in May, the grandmother's attorney told police, Fultz tried to put her grandmother's condo in her name but was thwarted.

"E.T.K.'s attorney told Fultz that if she tried another stunt like this she would call police and that Fultz should have a guardian appointed for her grandmother," the complaint said.

Fultz's explanation of the funds, told to an adult protection worker for Ramsey County, was that she needed $60,000 to buy a coffee shop and her grandmother told her to take it out of the CD. She also told the protection worker that she needed $17,000 for new windows in her home and her grandmother told her to take that from the CD, too. She said her grandmother "now doesn't recall giving her this money," the complaint said.

Pat Pheifer • 651-298-1551