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Wisconsin woman accused of stealing over $55,000 from her mother in Winona County

Monica Jean Zanon, 69, of Holmen, Wisconsin, is facing multiple felonies in Winona County District Court where she is accused of stealing $55,858.42 from her mother, a vulnerable adult, and using the majority to pay down her mortgage.

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WINONA — A Wisconsin woman is accused of stealing over $55,000 from her mother, a vulnerable adult, and using the money for her own means.

Monica Jean Zanon, 69, of Holmen, Wis., appeared Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, before District Judge Nancy Buytendorp in Winona County District charged with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, theft by false representation and theft by swindle, all felonies.

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Zanon is accused of transferring $55,858.42 from her mother's bank account without her mother's knowledge. The criminal complaint states that Zanon deposited $5,858.42 into a bank account under her name and then used $50,000 to make a principal payment on her mortgage.

Zanon, was released on her own recognizance and ordered to not have contact with the alleged victim and to complete booking before her next appearance scheduled for Sept. 1.

Her lawyer, Christopher William Dyer, of Onalaska, Wisconsin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Financial exploitation of older adults is the primary issue the Minnesota Elder Justice Center in St. Paul hears about, according to their Executive Director Amanda Vickstrom.

It's not just about the money being gone, according to Vickstrom.

"There's also real harm attached because what other care is not being provided because these resources aren't there," Vickstrom said.

About 1 in 10 people over 60 will face some type of exploitation, according to Vickstrom, who said that risk jumps to 1 in 5 when the victim has some type of impairment.

According to the criminal complaint:

Zanon's mother asked Zanon to take her to the bank Sept. 3, 2021, after learning she had earned interest income on her account and wanted to take the cash out.

Zanon brought her mother to a bank in Winona and had herself added to all of her mother's accounts before having the bank issue a cashier's check for $55,858.42. She told bank employees that she was setting up a joint bank account with her mother at another bank.

On Sept. 7, 2021, Zanon deposited $5,858.42 in a new account with only her name on it. She used the remaining $50,000 to pay down her mortgage.

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The mother told law enforcement that Zanon and the bank employee seemed to know each other so she tuned out, eventually signing paperwork they gave her.

"She pulled a good one," the mother told law enforcement when they told her what Zanon had done.

The mother's doctor told law enforcement that the woman has cognitive defects and was "suffering from dense dementia. The doctor believes that "she is unable to render decisions involving her health care as well as involving her finances competently."

Zanon told law enforcement she had nothing to do with her mother's bank account and did not know what they were talking about when asked about the money.

The mother's son, who has power of attorney for his mother, later learned that his mother had to pay an additional $978 for prematurely removing funds from the account.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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