MERCED, Calif. (CBS13) — A man has been arrested on a number of charges after allegedly failing to notify authorities that his uncle died and then stealing money from the victim’s account.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Department said a relative of a 63-year-old man flagged down deputies and told them the man was dead inside his home on the 2000 block of Beachwood Drive on Monday.
When authorities began investigating the scene, a deputy spotted the victim’s nephew, 45-year-old Patrick Lara, abruptly stop when he drove into view of the home and turn around. Deputies pulled Lara over and began to question him about the gruesome discovery.
Lara allegedly told them he never called for medical attention after his uncle broke his arm on January 22 and died a short time later. Receipts found inside the home indicate that Lara had used the man’s ATM card to get cash from his accounts, even using it to gamble at Chukchansi Casino, according to deputies.
The victim’s body had begun to decay by the time it was discovered, and Lara said the smell forced him to turn on the swamp cooler. The cooler began leaking into the roof, causing it to collapse on the deceased man and coating the remains in mold.
Lara allegedly lived in the house the entire time. Relatives became suspicious when he kept forestalling their visits by making excuses.
Deputies charged Lara with involuntary manslaughter, elder abuse, theft of caretaker, and the charges could be upgraded to murder after the autopsy is completed. He is being held on $175,000 bail.