Ontario-born woman accused of defrauding 92-year-old out of millions
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:02AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 24, 2014 7:55PM EDT
An Ontario-born woman who was one of the founders of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is alleged to have defrauded a 92-year-old Florida woman out of millions of dollars.
Palm Beach police say 66-year-old Nancy Tsai used the money to purchase a beachfront home, a luxury car and meals at the city’s finest restaurants.
Police arrested Tsai on Tuesday following a months-long investigation into her role as trustee of a trust account in the name of Helga Marston. Marston, the alleged victim, suffers from dementia and was deemed by her doctor in March, 2013, to have “zero mental capacity.”
Marston opened a trust account at UBS Financial Services in 2011 and granted Tsai “power of attorney” and named trustee of the account, according to police documents.
Tsai was born in Barrie, Ont. and was once married to the late Gerald Tsai, who was once chief executive officer of financial services giant Primerica.
Police documents described Tsai as Marston’s “long-term friend.” Tsai told police she has known Marston for 40 years.
“Although Tsai is not a named beneficiary of the Trust, she had complete control over Marston’s finances and had the ability to distribute the Trust’s assets at her discretion,” police say.
Between Jan. 2012 and Feb. 2014, Tsai made several large purchases with funds from the trust account, police allege, including a $2.3-million penthouse condominium in a building where Marston already owns a unit, and a Bentley valued at $170,000. Tsai also spent more than $569,000 renovating the newly purchased condo unit. According to a police affidavit, Tsai said the condo was for the alleged victim’s medical staff, who were to look after her around-the-clock once she was discharged from a care home.
Marston has been living in a West Palm Beach assisted living facility since Feb. 2013.
Tsai also dined out at some for the most expensive restaurants in Palm Beach to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, police say. A bill at Café L’Europe hit a whopping $7,000, for example, while a meal at Chez Jean Pierre cost $3,000.
Tsai also purchased a Mercedes and then leased another, bought tickets for several flights to and from Palm Beach and New York, and chartered a round-trip flight on a private jet between Palm Beach and Toronto, according to police. The total cost for the private jet trip was more than $28,000.
There is no reason to believe that any of Tsai’s purchases “primarily benefitted Marston or were purchased in her best interest,” police say.
The investigation also revealed that Tsai had a “romantic relationship” with a man named Dennis Melchior, who had served as broker of the trust at UBS until he was terminated in April, 2013. The company fired him over a “loss in confidence” in his professional judgment for failing to tell management about certain expenditures from the trust account.
Melchior denied any misconduct to police, saying his relationship with Tsai began after she became power of attorney for Marston. All transactions were for Marston’s benefit, Melchior told police.
In June 2013, Tsai closed the trust account at UBS and moved the money to Fidelity Investments, saying UBS’s involvement was “too overbearing.”
Officials at UBS approached police last December with concerns about activity in the trust account, while officials at Fidelity contacted police in January.
The subsequent investigation also found that Marston amended her will in May 2013, leaving “all tangible property” at her personal residence to Tsai’s daughter, E. Sarah Paul. The rest of Marston’s property goes to the trustee, which is Tsai.
Earlier this month, a court ordered that Tsai resign as trustee and that the declaration giving Tsai power of attorney is no longer valid.
Police arrested Tsai on Tuesday and charged her with one count of exploitation of an elderly person and one count of larceny.
None of the allegations have been proven in a court of law.