A 57-year-old Plymouth man was charged with criminal neglect and financial exploitation after he wheeled his unresponsive mother into a local bank to make a withdrawal hours before reporting her dead.
The Hennepin County attorney’s office charged David John Vanzo with two counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one count each of criminal neglect and attempted theft by swindle.
Vanzo was arrested on Thursday in Pomona, Calif., where he awaits extradition to Minnesota. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the case is one of the first felony criminal neglect cases his office has prosecuted since the Legislature enacted harsher punishments for the crime three years ago. “The horrible way he treated his mother is exactly why we wanted the upgraded charge and tougher penalty,” Freeman said.
According to the criminal complaint:
Vanzo and his 90-year-old mother entered a Wells Fargo branch office about 4 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2015, where he withdrew $850 from his mother’s account. The woman was slumped over in her wheelchair, unresponsive and dragging her feet as Vanzo pushed the chair, witnesses said.
Vanzo then had a cab driver take him to a Buffalo Wild Wings after they dropped his mother at home. Six hours later, Vanzo called Plymouth police to report her death. Officers found his mother on a soiled bed, still in a coat and boots. A medical examiner said she was covered in bed sores that would have been excruciating and in feces, and was unable to determine if she would have been alive at the bank.
Vanzo began living with his mother in 2007 and was given power of attorney over her finances in 2012. Until her death, Vanzo withdrew about $260,000 from her accounts and a reverse mortgage on the home. He spent the money on gambling and women.
“The Plymouth Police Department is pleased and relieved to know that David Vanzo is in custody and will face prosecution for the felonious crimes he committed against his elderly mother,” Police Chief Mike Goldstein said in a statement. “Mr. Vanzo took advantage of his mother’s ailing health and systematically robbed her of her assets, and in my opinion, of her dignity as well. His actions were outright despicable.”