CRIME
08/07/2019 16:59 EDT | Updated 08/08/2019 10:13 EDT

Florida Nursing Assistant Stole Over $100,000 From Holocaust Survivor, Cops Say

Odalis Lopez is accused of using Rella and Leonard Herman's life savings to go on personal shopping sprees.

A Florida health care professional spent years bilking a Holocaust survivor and her husband out of thousands of dollars, police say.

Odalis Lopez reportedly earned the elderly Pinecrest couple’s trust while working as their certified nursing assistant for seven years ― all while secretly siphoning off over $100,000 of their life savings, according to NBC Miami.

Miami-Dade police arrested 56-year-old Lopez on Friday, but she has since bonded out of jail. She faces felony charges of theft and financial exploitation of the elderly, according to Miami-Dade court records.

State attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she believes this case is “all about greed.” 

“Selfish indulgence, it seems like, based on the purchases that we’ve seen,” Fernandez Rundle told WSVN.

Lopez’s lawyer, Dennis Gonzalez Jr., told HuffPost that he’s entered a plea of not guilty for his client. 

“Mrs. Lopez plans on mounting a vigorous defense to the allegations and intends to meet them head on,” Gonzalez wrote in an email. “Mrs. Lopez wants to investigate every penny, every charge, every statement, and will depose everyone involved, or anyone [that] may have knowledge.” 

The couple, Rella and Leonard Herman, are both in their early 90s. Rella Herman is a Holocaust survivor whose mother perished at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, according to her grandson, Micah Herman. 

GoFundMe / Micah Herman
Rella Herman appears in a photo posted to a GoFundMe fundraiser set up by her grandson, Micah Herman.

Micah Herman said that a significant amount of his grandmother’s retirement funds came from Holocaust reparation checks from the German government. 

“They have been stripped of everything,” he told WSVN about the scam. 

According to an arrest warrant obtained by NBC Miami, the nursing assistant was tasked with using Rella Herman’s credit cards to buy the elderly couple’s groceries and prescriptions. In 2011, Lopez reportedly started making personal purchases on the credit cards, buying restaurant meals and going on shopping sprees at Publix grocery stores.

Micah Herman claimed the fraudulent charges on his grandmother’s credit cards increased after the couple’s son died of cancer in 2015. He said he found it “revolting” that the caretaker “took advantage of her despair and depression.”

“This was her only friend. This is someone she saw more than anybody,” he said of Lopez.

The alleged scam was uncovered after the Herman family noticed the exorbitant spending popping up on the couple’s credit card statements. 

The caretaker’s court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 3. 

This article has been updated with comment from Dennis Gonzalez Jr.

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