October 18, 2011

Man arrested for exploiting elderly woman

A man now living in Arizona has been brought back to the Florida Keys to face charges of exploitation of an elderly woman he was acting as caretaker for.

51 year old Mark Costa was originally a handyman for the 80 year old victim, who lives on Allamanda Terrace in the neighborhood of Key Haven. The victim told Detective Diane Mimosa she considered Costa her friend, so when he had nowhere to live in 2009, she told him she had an extra bedroom he could stay in. She said she would sign blank checks so he could pick up her prescriptions, groceries and other items she needed around town. She said she let him use her car to run the errands. She said she never paid him a salary, though. She said, “…he was living here for free and eating here for free, why should I give him a salary?”

According to Detective Mimosa’s extensive and detailed investigation, Costa’s boyfriend moved into her house without her permission when he got out of jail in July of 2010. She said he and Costa redecorated her house, including tearing out an outside kitchen and bar area, replacing it with new cabinets and a storage shed, all without her permission.

The investigation showed Costa spent her money as if it were his own, writing checks to benefit himself and using her credit card and bank account to purchase items, airline tickets, and paying himself and his boyfriend for “labor” that was never performed.

According to Detective Mimosa, Costa spent over $100,000.00 of her money “to benefit himself and his partner”. Detective Mimosa obtained a warrant for Costa’s arrest; subsequent to the warrant being issued, she found out he’d moved to Mesa, Arizona. She contacted the Mesa Police Department and, on September 1, 2011 he was picked up in that location. He was returned to Monroe County yesterday to face charges of Grand theft from an elderly person; illegal use of credit cards. His bond is set at $150,000.00.

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