Sheriff: Man Stole $900,000 From Aunt With Alzheimer’s

MAYWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — A Melrose Park man has been charged with stealing more than $900,000 from his late aunt, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Cook County Sheriff’s police said that Chester Czernwinski, 59, gained power of attorney over his 91-year-old aunt in February 2005. She suffered from dementia and was a widower with no children.

Czernwinski controlled his aunt’s finances until she died in April 2008 and, during that time, he allegedly cashed out her stocks, life insurance and annuities, and sold her home. Police said he used the profits and money from joint bank accounts for his own benefit.

In all, Czerwinski allegedly stole more than $900,000 from the victim.

He was indicted on Thursday for financial exploitation of the elderly/disabled and two felony counts of theft. Bond was set at $500,000 on Friday.

Police began investigating Czernwinski in April 2010 after a relative expressed concerns about money missing from the victim’s estate. That relative has filed a civil lawsuit against Czernwinski.

Czernwinski had been unemployed since 1998, receiving only disability from Social Security.

He allegedly used the money he stole to buy jewelry and a $53,000 Lincoln Navigator and to pay for a vacation for eight to San Antonio and a $30,000 wedding for his son.

Police said that, over the years, other family members tried to intervene and visit the victim, but because the victim was living in his basement, Czernwinski blocked access.

Czernwinski was due back in court on April 14th in Maywood.

  • dan

    Yeah all the relatives come out of the wood work if they get a sniff of cash. Did the other relatives want to take in a person with alzheimers? Not an easy thing to do, I say give the guy the cash if he took care of her and treated her well.

    • Roberta Waker

      While my mother was in a nursing home my “family” robbed her blind. They hated a grandson that brought her home to care for her 24/7 so they couldn’t steal any more. They took and took and took and we will never know how much they took after they abandoned her. If this young man took care of her 24/7 he probably deserved the money. Only HE knows for sure. As for the relatives coming out of the woodwork; where were THEY when she needed someone to take care of her?

    • Sam

      Well put Dan, I agree. Besides, he seems to have spent the money wisely.

  • mary 100

    WISELY???? A $53,000 car and a $30,000 weding hardly sounds wise for a man who is unemployed! Maybe he did take care of the Aunt when nobody would, but that does not mean that he was “deserving” of her money!


      I agree Mary, I take care of my mom, I have other siblings but, just because I take care of her, give me no right to “take her to the cleaners!!!!” nor him. That’s why somehow or another he got caught and he is where he is!!!!!

    • Sam

      I meant he didn’t smoke it or gamble it away.

    • Amy

      I did not read anything about him abusing her, or that the family was concerned for her safety. no the family was concerned for her money. Until something else says he mistreated her I don’t see the problem.

  • Tanya Livingston

    He didn’t buy a double wide trailer and a flat screen tv at Best Buy. If he took care of her for a dozen years, that’s less than 100K per year and it saved the tax payers the Medi-Care and nursing home expenses. So, the guy bought a few goodies. Sheriff Tom Dart is grandstanding again. Were there any puppies to be rescued?

    • Peter Planter

      No Tanya, he did not buy a double wide or flat screen that we know of. Mary is right on, a 30000 wedding, jewelry and vaca is a little extreme…. Amy, the article does stae the famly tried to visit and was denied access. Why would that be? Fact is, he took her in. He knew she was unable to care for herself. She ended up in a nursing home. Why was that? We have to look at the whole picture. Others, undisclosed, benefitted from this situation as well. His family is very quiet during all of this.

  • News - Weekly Chicago Crime Roundup April 10, 2011 -

    […] via Sheriff: Man Stole $900,000 From Aunt With Alzheimer’s « CBS Chicago. […]

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