Former ombudsman allegedly stole up to $50,000 from resident

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Mary E. Pfingston (Photo: Kane County State's Attorney's Office)
Mary E. Pfingston (Photo: Kane County State's Attorney's Office)

A former senior advocate faces her next court date Friday after being indicted on several felony counts for allegedly stealing up to $50,000 from an assisted living resident for whom she was responsible. Her former employer says the news prompts a lesson for senior living communities, residents and their families.

Mary E. Pfingston, also known by the last name McMillan, was indicted Dec. 5 on counts of financial exploitation of the elderly and theft as well as three counts of public contractor misconduct, all felonies. She was taken into custody Wednesday and first appeared in court Thursday. The investigation is ongoing, according to information posted on the Facebook page of the Kane County (IL) State's Attorney's Office.

Pfingston, according to the state's attorney's office, worked for Senior Services Associates, a state contractor, when between Feb. 1, 2015, and April 30, 2015, she allegedly stole between $5,000 and $50,000 from the alleged victim, who was a resident of an Aurora, IL, long-term care facility. The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Herald all identified the alleged victim's residence as an assisted living community. Neither the victim nor the community was named.

If convicted of the most serious offense, Pfingston faces a sentence of probation or three to seven years of imprisonment by the Illinois Department of Corrections.

As a case coordination unit for the Illinois Department of Aging, Senior Services Associates works to integrate frail elders into the social service system, according to its website. The company also offers information, referrals, outreach and case management services and is a long-term care ombudsman and elder abuse investigation agency (adult protective services).

Although she said she couldn't comment on Pfingston or the accusations against her, Senior Services Associates Executive Director Bette Schoenholtz shared with McKnight's Senior Living advice for senior living community community leaders and employees as well as residents and their families. “When something bad happens, you want something good to come of it,” she said.

Schoenholtz said that the news is a reminder to “always be alert.”

“Whenever there is an issue that is a cause of concern, they should report it immediately to the ombudsman, police or management of a facility ... so things can be investigated if they need to be,” she said.

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