Son charged with abusing, stealing from his mother up to hours before her death

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Plymouth man, who wheeled his ailing mother into a local bank just hours before he reported her dead in order to obtain more money, was charged with criminal neglect and financial exploitation, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

David John Vanzo, 57, had been charged by warrant with the two charges of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult as well as one count each of the criminal neglect and attempted theft by swindle. Vanzo was arrested Thursday in Pomona, Ca., where he awaits extradition back to Minnesota.

“This case is one of the first criminal neglect cases we have been able to charge since we worked hard to get the Minnesota Legislature to make it a felony three years ago,” Freeman said. “The horrible way he treated his mother is exactly why we wanted the upgraded charge and tougher penalty. We also appreciate the work of Plymouth police in tracking down his financial misdeeds.”

According to the criminal complaint, Vanzo and his 90-year-old mother entered a Wells Fargo branch office about 4 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2015. Vanzo made a withdrawal of $850 from his mother’s account. Bank employees observed that she was in her wheelchair, slumped over, unresponsive and dragging her feet as Vanzo pushed the chair.

The cab driver who picked up the Vanzos said that after he returned them home, David Vanzo had him wait while he took his mother inside and then had him drive Vanzo to a Buffalo Wild Wings. About 10:30 p.m., Plymouth police were called to the house by Vanzo. They found his mother on a soiled bed, still in a coat and boots. The medical examiner discovered she was covered in bed sores that would have been excruciating and in feces. The medical examiner stated he was unable to determine if she was alive when she was in the bank.

“The Plymouth Police Department is pleased and relieved to know that David Vanzo is in custody and will face prosecution for the felonious crimes he committed against his elderly mother,” Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein said. “Mr. Vanzo took advantage of his mother’s ailing health and systematically robbed her of her assets, and in my opinion, of her dignity as well.   His actions were outright despicable.  I am thankful for Investigator Goodwin’s work on this matter and want to offer a special thanks to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for their tenacity in putting this complicated case together.” 

Vanzo, who began living with his mother in 2007, eventually was given power of attorney over her finances in 2012. From that time until her death, Vanzo took about $260,000 from his mother’s accounts and through a reverse mortgage on the home. He spent it on gambling and women, according to the complaint.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)