Florida woman accused of fraudulently taking control of dementia patient’s accounts, property

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A Marion County woman was arrested Sunday, accused of exploiting an elderly dementia patient for financial gain.


The investigation into 52-year-old Sherry Hayes-Luzader’s activities began in September when the victim’s son and daughter contacted the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to complain that she had been removed from an assisted living facility by Hayes-Luzader, and taken back to the victim’s own home.

The victim’s son told investigators that once she was removed from the facility, Hayes-Luzader began assisting the victim with signing bank documents and adding her name to the victim’s bank accounts.

READ: Dashcam captures deadly plane crash on I-75 in Florida

According to the sheriff’s office, while the victim was in the facility, all of her affairs were being handled by her daughter, who held power of attorney.

The victim’s son and daughter told investigators they became concerned when they started receiving emails indicating account information was being changed at various financial institutions. After receiving the emails, the daughter said she contacted the institutions and provided POA documents, but they would not release any additional information to her.

Throughout the course of the investigation, detectives say they looked into allegations made by both the victim and Hayes-Luzader that the children were the ones exploiting her for financial gain, but found those claims to be completely unfounded.

In addition to finding recent documents listing Hayes-Luzader as the new POA for the victim, detectives say they found information for a new bank account where Hayes-Luzader listed herself as an account holder with a designation of “joint with survivorship,” giving her full access to the victim’s funds upon her death.

The same day the bank account was created, investigators say Hayes-Luzader transferred all of the victim’s funds- more than $60,000- to the new account, giving her immediate full access.

Bank records also showed the victim’s Social Security, Veteran Affairs, and insurance benefits had been diverted to the new account.

READ: Bethune-Cookman University wins legal dispute with former alumni association

In an interview with detectives, Hayes-Luzader claimed she diverted the funds to “protect” the victim from her children potentially exploiting her, but investigators noted that would be an unnecessary step for the victim’s POA, who would have oversight of the accounts.

In January, investigators learned through a records check that Hayes-Luzader had also retitled the victim’s two vehicles in the name of the victim “or” herself, allowing Hayes-Luzader to sell or trade them without the victim’s approval, signature or even her presence. Investigators noted that would have also been an unnecessary step as POA and only served to enrich Hayes-Luzader in the event of a sale, trade, or the victim’s death.

Later, investigators say they received a Life Estate Deed, or Lady Bird Deed, from the victim’s daughter, which she said had been provided to her attorney by Hayes-Luzader’s attorney.

The document, dated Sept. 12, 2021, named Hayes-Luzader, her husband, and her own daughter as the grantees.

After taking a closer look at the Lady Bird Deed, investigators determined that Hayes-Luzader had fraudulently back-dated it because of how the victim’s name was signed. According to the sheriff’s office and the victim’s daughter, her name would have been written differently than it appeared if she had actually signed the document herself in 2021.

Detectives later spoke to a former caregiver for the victim who recalled a conversation with Hayes-Luzader during which she said she had found a “friend” who would be willing to notarize a back-dated Lady Bird Deed due to the victim having no memory issues two years ago.

READ: Man arrested after spry painting over pro-Palestinian messages on I-95, troopers say

Investigators contacted that “friend” who eventually admitted that the deed was notarized in 2023 at the victim’s request. She claimed the victim said she wanted the document complete because of “what her children were doing to her,” leading her to believe the victim was being exploited, although those allegations were proven to be false.

According to the sheriff’s office, all of the actions Hayes-Luzader took were in “direct violation” of her role as the victim’s POA.

She was arrested Sunday and booked into the Marion County jail, charged with exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult for more than $50,000. She has since been released on $5,000 bond.

Click here to download our free news, weather and smart TV apps. And click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.