Healdsburg counselor for seniors arrested in abuse case

A Healdsburg man who runs a counseling service for elderly clients is accused of stealing $26,000 from an 86-year-old woman.|

A Healdsburg man who runs a counseling organization tailored for elderly clients was arrested after a three-month investigation on suspicion of stealing $26,000 from an 86-year-old woman who sought help for memory loss, Santa Rosa police officials said.

Creative Counseling for Elders and Families founder Andrew Raymond Ross, 46, was booked into the Sonoma County Jail on Thursday on suspicion of financial elder abuse and grand theft, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Lisa Banayat said. Ross was released without being charged and will appear in court Aug. 3.

Brian Staebell, chief deputy district attorney, said his office asked police to investigate the case further.

Police found evidence Ross may have used the money to pay his taxes and take his family on a trip to Mexico, according to detectives with the property crimes team.

The investigation began March 27 when a social worker alerted police to the possible theft.

The woman whose money was taken had been a client of Ross’ therapeutic business since 2014, when she was referred to the group to help her cope with memory loss after she was released from court-ordered conservatorship, police said.

In October 2014, Ross became a trustee on her personal checking account with Summit State Bank, although his company does not offer fiduciary management services, Banayat said.

Detectives uncovered evidence that Ross made several electronic transfers from the woman’s checking account to his personal accounts between December 2014 and March 2015, Banayat said. Police also suspect that Ross altered several invoices for fraudulent services, which the victim paid, including invoices for $7,500 and $3,000.

Ross, who goes by the nickname Drew, started Creative Counseling in 2005 and is listed as a therapeutic case manager on the organization’s website. The group specializes in working with families and individuals “struggling with a myriad of issues including long-term mental illness, traumatic brain injury and dual diagnosis, in addition to the issues related to the aging process,” according to the site.

Calls placed to his home and business were not returned Tuesday.

Police worked with adult protective services, Summit State Bank, the Sonoma County Public Guardians Office and the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs during the investigation.

Anyone with information about the case can call Detective Gavin Holzapfel at 543-4092.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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