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    Woman charged with taking mom's money

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 15, 2001

    Agents with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs charged a Clearwater woman with stealing $40,000 from her dead mother.

    Helyn Parkton, whose age and address were not released, was charged with theft of government funds.

    She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

    From August 1996 to August 2000, Parkton collected Veterans Affairs money that was supposed to go to her mother, Helen J. Lachowich, the wife of deceased veteran Vincent J. Lachowich, according to Special Agent in Charge Kenneth R. Atkins.

    Mrs. Lachowich was receiving money through the Veterans Affairs Death Indemnity Compensation program, but Parkton did not report in August 1996 that her mother had died, according to Atkins.

    After Mrs. Lachowich's death, Veterans Affairs officials continued to deposit money into her account, which was a joint account she shared with Parkton. Each month, Parkton withdrew the cash, Atkins said.

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