Charities lost out some £25,000 after attorney of elderly widow’s finances abused position - The Leamington Observer

Charities lost out some £25,000 after attorney of elderly widow’s finances abused position

Leamington Editorial 16th Nov, 2018 Updated: 16th Nov, 2018   0

THREE charities lost out to the tune of more than £25,000 after a Leamington man abused his position as the attorney of an elderly widow’s finances.

But Zlatko Bogdanovic has been given a chance to escape an immediate 12-month prison sentence – by repaying the money that should have gone to the charities.

The 62-year-old, of Brunswick Street, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to fraud by abuse of a position of trust and obtaining benefit by falsely claiming to be a rent-paying tenant. His sentence was deferred for six months to give him chance to repay the money he had obtained.

The court heard Bogdanovic had obtained a total of £25,795 from the account of widow Audrey Archbold.

According to her will, that was part of her estate that should have been going to the Cats Protection League, the RSPCA and Cancer Research following her death in 2015.

Prosecutor Graham Russell said Bogdanovic had come to know Mrs Archbold in 1997 when she was 71, and they became close friends.

The following year a declaration of trust was made to deal with her Brunswick Street home.

Under that, it was to be held in trust for the beneficial ownership of Bogdanovic, with Mrs Archbold retaining the right to live there for the rest of her life.

In 2002 Mrs Archbold named Bogdanovic as the executor of her will to deal with the remainder of her estate, and later the same month he was appointed as her attorney.

Mr Russell said in that role Bogdanovic was to ‘deal with her estate in such a way as he saw fit, consistent with her best interests,’ and was entitled to out-of-pocket expenses but not to profit by it.

Bogdanovic was obliged to look after her as her carer, and moved into the property in 2006 – and Mr Russell said there was no question that he did look after her.

But in 2010 her faculties began to deteriorate, and following a period of assessment she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved into a residential home – and between then and her death in 2015, Bogdanovic treated her assets as his own.

He withdrew both her state pension and benefits, and her work pension.

Bogdanovic withdrew at least £300 a month from the two accounts, and Mr Russell said he obtained a total of £25,795 over a 30-month period.

At the time Bogdanovic was on benefits, and made a claim for housing benefit, falsely claiming he was living at the address as a tenant, which resulted in him receiving payments totalling £31,706.

Kevin Saunders, defending, said Bogdanovic, who described himself as a self-employed architect, said the impact of the offences was the loss to the three charities.

But he said some of the money had been spent on the house for the benefit of Mrs Archbold, in the initial anticipation that she would be able to return to live there.

Granting him bail, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano responded: “I am prepared to make this very easy. He’s got a significant cash benefit. If he’s prepared to pay that back before I sentence him, I would be prepared to suspend the sentence.”

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