Caregiver sentenced for exploiting Kennesaw stroke victim

photo of Cobb Superior Court building from the front with a blue sky with clouds in the background

A live-in caregiver for a Kennesaw stroke victim was sentenced to 15 years, with five years to be served in prison, for taking nearly $20,000 from her client.

Julia Maria Bell, 50, was convicted of four counts of elder exploitation on March 6 in the courtroom of visiting Superior Court Judge Tambra P. Colston, and the sentence was handed down this morning.

A public information release from the office of Cobb District Attorney Joyette Holmes described the events leading up to the arrest and conviction as follows.

From late 2016 through the end of 2017, Bell was hired to care for a Kennesaw woman after she suffered a stroke. Bell lived in the woman’s home and gained access to her finances. Bell used various credit cards belonging to her client, charging thousands of dollars for her personal benefit.

In one instance, Bell gained a card in her own name under her client’s Citibank Costco Visa account, spending nearly $6,000 in the month before her employment was terminated. That led relatives of the client to do a deeper probe into the client’s finances, during which they discovered unusual cash withdrawals, charges and checks. When law enforcement pulled the defendant’s bank records, they discovered a check that had been mailed to her client and deposited into Bell’s own bank account.

“This defendant was defiant to the end, insisting she had done nothing wrong. Thankfully, the jury disagreed,” said Senior Assistant District Attorney Jason Marbutt, who specializes in prosecuting crimes against the elderly and disabled. “The evidence overwhelmingly showed that this defendant manipulated a vulnerable victim and charged thousands of dollars for her own benefit.”