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Caretaker allegedly stole $69,000 from Eagle Point senior citizen

A caretaker who had access to an Eagle Point senior citizen's finances has pleaded not guilty in aggravated theft charges.

Diego Chris Chavez, 62, of the 400 block of Addison Lane, Cave Junction, had been employed as the caretaker for senior citizen Juanita Henson of Eagle Point since 2012.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Henson's daughter Renata Noble discovered unauthorized bank transactions on her mother's statements and contacted police on Oct. 16. Noble allegedly discovered transactions such as ATM withdrawals, cash back on debit card purchases, unauthorized debit purchases and personal bill payment. Chavez was allowed to use the family's finances only for purchases that Henson requested and banking transactions, according to the document.

When Noble discovered the discrepancies, Chavez allegedly contacted Henson's three other children and confessed to having stolen from Henson and sought to "work it out," according to court documents. The affidavit indicates a recorded call confirmed the three siblings' conversation with Chavez.

Noble and Henson put the total loss at more than $69,000 since Chavez began working for Henson. The crimes allegedly took place between March 1, 2014 and April 1, 2015, court documents say.

When police interviewed Chavez about the transactions in December, he allegedly confirmed the expenditures and his role in the account activity, but claimed that the transactions were agreed upon and authorized by Henson. Chavez told police that the unaccounted loss was closer to $5,000. He allegedly told police that he "took advantage" of access that Henson had granted him over the last six months of his employment, and that the transactions got "out of hand," according to court documents.

At an arraignment Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court, Chavez pleaded not guilty to felony charges of first-degree criminal mistreatment, four charges of first-degree aggravated theft and a charge of first-degree theft. 

The next court date in the case is a pretrial conference, currently scheduled for Feb. 8.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.