Nora G. Bekis is unable to care for herself or manage her finances because of chronic lung disease and progressive dementia.

So the 83-year-old woman gave her son, Larry J. Bekis, power of attorney to manage her bills and her home. But instead, authorities say, he swindled her out of well over $100,000 and has left her nursing home bill of more than $49,000 unpaid.

Bekis, 51, was charged Thursday in Ramsey County District Court with felony theft by swindle. It is the first case prosecuted by the county attorney's new elder abuse unit.

He is not in custody and is scheduled to make his first court appearance Feb. 10.

According to the criminal complaint, Nora Bekis gave her son power of attorney on July 31, 2006. She moved into the Rose of Sharon nursing home in Roseville on Oct. 10, 2006, and Larry Bekis signed an agreement to pay her bills there.

Bekis made no payments to the nursing home, while the bill ran to more than $49,000 between March 2007 and March 2008, the complaint said.

The complaint said adult protection officials learned Bekis was receiving his mother's Social Security and pension checks, totaling about $3,000 per month. He took out a reverse mortgage on his mother's home in Lauderdale and took more than $100,000 between Jan. 1, 2007, and Oct. 31, 2008. He also drained his mother's bank account of almost $10,900 between Sept. 25, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2007, leaving her with a balance of $86.25.

When Roseville police contacted Bekis on Nov. 26, 2007, he said that "he was working with the Rose of Sharon and that there was a misunderstanding." Last July, he told police that "all of his mother's money is gone" and that he used it "to follow her wishes as best he could," the complaint said.

Bekis said he used some of the money to pay his son's mortgage and he gave $10,000 to $20,000 to his nephew because "that is what his mother would have wanted him to do," the complaint said. He admitted he had taken out a second mortgage on his mother's home but had not used the money to pay her bills.

"Bekis denied intentionally exploiting his mother and said he is just very poor at managing money," the complaint said.

Meanwhile, Ramsey County began paying for Nora Bekis' hospice care in the spring of 2008, the complaint said.

Pat Pheifer • 651-298-1551