Sarasota County caregiver arrested for stealing from disabled clients

SARASOTA, Fla. - As the co-owner of John Bird Community Supports, Linda Flores made a living handling the finances and day-to-day errands for those who couldn't do it themselves, mostly the disabled.

But according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, for several months, Flores hasn't been helping them she's been helping herself.

"Instead of just paying their bills, she was paying her own bills and making ATM withdrawals as well," said Sarasota County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Wendy Rose.

In her role as a caregiver, Flores was listed as the "trustee" on the bank accounts of two mentally handicapped Sarasota women, both wards of Lutheran Services. The women, 42 and 68 years old, were both deemed mentally incompetent by the state. Flores was responsible for paying their bills.

But according to the sheriff's office, from December to May, Flores stole $2,910 from the 68-year-old client and $1,494 from the 42-year-old client. Her arrest affidavit says Flores electronically transferred money from their accounts into her personal bank account, made multiple ATM withdrawals, and also allegedly used one of the victim's accounts to pay her own FPL bill.

"You're there to look out for their best interests and instead this woman was looking out for her own interests," Rose said.

The suspect's former business partner, John Bird, said there was never any indication this was going on.

"All of us in the agency are just really shocked, disappointed, hurt, and angry," Bird said.

According to Bird, the two severed professional ties in June when he realized Flores was under investigation.

Flores was arrested on Tuesday. She is charged with two felony counts of exploitation of a disabled person.

Through her roommates, Flores declined an interview request with ABC Action News.

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