Criminal charges were filed against Michele Ann Connors, 37, of 243 Preston Ave., Girardville, by Schuylkill County District Attorney James P. Goodman, alleging she stole $163,358.93 from Mary O'Connell, 90, of Shenandoah, for whom she had been appointed as power of attorney. She faces charges of theft.

The criminal complaint states that O'Connell was placed in the Schuylkill Manor Assisted Living Facility in Shenandoah and was befriended by the defendant. Connors was later named her power of attorney.

Between February 2007 and 2008 the defendant made debit withdrawals at the bank and credit card purchases from the victim's bank account which amounted to $160,468.93. Also, on Dec. 11, 2006, the defendant withdrew money in the amount of $10,000 for the bank to prepay O'Connell's funeral expenses which amounted to $7,110 leaving $2,800 unaccounted.

Goodman reported this is the third arrest made by the Elder Abuse Unit since its inception. It was created as an awareness of elderly persons being abused and to educate the communities in elder abuse prevention and to aid law enforcement in prosecuting offenders who prey on the elderly.

The first two cases were disposed with convictions.

The first case, Elizabeth DeLeon, pled guilty to stealing and misappropriating $197,359.80 as a power of attorney and is awaiting sentencing.

Arthur Deiter, 52, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Joanne Wider, 69, Pottsville, who died of neglect, pleaded guilty and is also awaiting sentencing.

Goodman asked the public to get involved in helping to protect the elderly and if they have any clue about someone bilking an elderly person to call the Elder Abuse Hotline, 1-800-490-8505 or contact Detective Dolores Malee in the district attorney's office at the courthouse in Pottsville.