IMAGE: Joseph Baessler

Joseph Baessler has been arraigned on one felony count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult.

A local attorney has been charged, accused of embezzling from an incapacitated woman.

Genesee County sheriff Robert Pickell said that attorney Joseph Baessler has been arraigned on one felony count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult.

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This comes after Pickell claims Baessler took money to pay for business and personal expenses.

"Well it's always despicable when someone takes advantage of elderly person," Pickell said. 

But Pickell said that's exactly what a Burton-area lawyer did to a client when he was entrusted to protect her. 

"It makes me so sick to my stomach. All these years, he's just taking all my mom's money," Amy Lynch, the victim's daughter said. 

Pickell said that Baessler was appointed conservator to a 64-year-old woman in 1984 after a car accident left her incapacitated. She received a closed-head injury so severe she still requires 24/7 care, according to the sheriff.

"Rather than helping her and being a support person, he turned out to be a monster," Pickell said.

Pickell said the Elder Abuse Task Force found that while acting as the victim’s fiduciary, Baessler billed for time and services he did not perform in the amount of $87,962.27 dating back to 2010.

"It makes me angry. I just can't imagine someone taking advantage of someone in my mom's situation. I was blown away. I knew something fishy was going on for a while, I couldn't put my finger on it but I knew something was going on," Deborah Lynch, the victim's daughter said. 

Further investigation revealed Baessler used the victim’s money “to pay his legal secretary and make payments on his mortgage and condominium fees. The victim’s money was also used to pay for various personal expenses,” Pickell alleged.

Pickell said the probate court got suspicious and had an audit performed on Baessler. Their findings led to the attorney's arrest. 

"I hope justice is served for my mom and for her kids' sake as well," Amy said.

If convicted, Baessler could serve up to 15-years behind bars, and be forced to pay damages up to three times the amount stolen.

"I hope he sits and rots, I really do because what he has done to my mom is totally wrong, nobody should have to go through that," Deborah said. 

Baessler was arraigned in court on Tuesday, April 9 and is free on bond. He is due back in court later this month.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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