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3:27 PM Sun, Dec. 09th

Woman guilty of defrauding elderly couple

Prosecutor says victims lost over $400,000

Kimberly Hickman

Kimberly Hickman

KINGMAN - A Kingman woman will be sentenced next month after she was recently convicted of bilking an elderly couple out of thousands of dollars.

Kimberly Hickman, 49, was found guilty by a jury in September of charges that she stole more than $25,000 from Andrew and Opal Morabeto.

In what County Attorney Jace Zack called a classic case of the financial exploitation of the elderly, Hickman was accused of taking more than $75,000 from the Morabetos during a one-year period beginning in 2007.

Zack said the actual amount of missing money totals around $412,000, but Hickman was only charged in the criminal complaint for the money taken following the death of Andrew Morabeto.

His death negated a signed statement presented by Hickman's lawyer, which was signed by both Morabetos. The letter, dated October 2006, authorized Hickman to write checks for the Morabetos and Hickman at her discretion.

The notarized letter goes on to say that the arrangement was made because Hickman had served as the couple's caregiver, closest friend, successor trustee and primary beneficiary.

Zack said Andrew Morabeto's death in June 2007 negated his signature on the letter, and Opal did not have the legal ability to enter into such an agreement because she suffers from Alzheimer's.

Zack said Hickman became the sole beneficiary of the Morabeto's estate after knowing the couple for less than three months. Court documents indicate that Hickman met the Morabetos when she sold them a cemetery plot in June 2005. On Aug. 15, 2005, she became the trustee of their estate.

Judge Randolph Bartlett presided over a civil suit against Hickman, in which she was ordered to provide a full accounting of all her financial transactions with the couple's money. She invoked her 5th Amendment right and did not provide the information. Family acting on the Morabetos' behalf are seeking damages and expenses against Hickman.

The case was brought to the attention of authorities after one of Opal's grandchildren contacted Adult Protective Services.