THREE charities which lost out to the tune of more than £25,000 after a man abused his position as the attorney of an elderly widow’s finances are finally going to get the money.
And Zlatko Bogdanovic escaped jail after Warwick Crown Court was handed a cheque to cover what he had stolen.
Bogdanovic, 62, of Brunswick Street, Leamington, at the time, had pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of a position of trust and a charge of making false claims to obtain benefit.
After entering his pleas, sentencing was deferred to give him time to repay the £25,795 he took from the account of widow Audrey Archbold.
Her will said the money was part of her estate which should have been going to the Cats Protection League, the RSPCA and Cancer Research following her death in 2015.
And at the hearing, he was given a ten-month sentence suspended for 12 months, after his solicitor Sean Logan said he had a cheque for the full amount.
The court heard 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 which 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.
He 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 looked after her as her carer, and moved into the house in 2006 – and it was accepted there was no question that he did look after her.
But in 2010 her faculties began to deteriorate and she was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved into a residential home.
Between then and her death in 2015, Bogdanovic treated her assets as his own, withdrawing her pension and benefits soon after they were paid in.
He withdrew at least £300 a month, obtaining a total of £25,795 over a 30-month period.
At the time he was on benefits, making a false claim for housing benefit, on the basis he was living there as a tenant, resulting in him receiving overpayments totalling £33,246.
Prosecutor Jamie Scott said the money being repaid was to be divided equally between the three charities.
But that could not be done straight away because there is to be a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act over the money Bogdanovic had received from his fraudulent benefit claims.
No financial orders can be made in a case until a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing is resolved.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said the court would hold the money until it could be paid in compensation.
Sentencing Bogdanovic, who now lives in Croatia, Judge de Bertodano said: “It is an unusual case. This was, I accept, a genuine, caring relationship which went on for a number of years.”