A 7-year-old tabby called Puddy Cat is at the center of an extensive embezzlement case in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Puddy Cat stood to inherit part of a trust fund worth at least $450,000, until its owner fell victim to a couple of swindling neighbours, prosecutors said.
Puddy Cat belongs to a 74-year-old Brighton woman who is suffering from progressive dementia and living in a nursing home. The woman created the "Puddy Cat Trust" in her will and specified that, upon her death, the tabby was to be cared for through the trust and that all remaining assets would benefit animal welfare groups.
The Suffolk County District Attorney said that several years ago, the two neighbours, who were roommates, befriended Puddy Cat's owner and offered to take care of the beloved cat. Those two neighbours, Randi Berkowitz, 63, and Patricia DiGiacomo, 58, pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday to a 63-count indictment accusing them of raiding the victim's financial accounts.
They are accused of using Puddy Cat to swindle the ailing victim out of her life savings and the tabby out of its inheritance. District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said the pair used Puddy Cat, under the guise of caring for the feline, to gain access to the victim's bank accounts and financial assets. "This is one of the most startling cases of elder exploitation we've seen in years," Conley said. Berkowitz and DiGiacomo are charged with a list of crimes, including embezzlement, larceny, intimidation, and perjury.