HALLOWELL — An Augusta man is facing charges he manipulated his ill grandmother into withdrawing nearly $12,000 from the bank and giving it to him.

Nicholas Baron, 24, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with felony theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, said Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason.

Baron was being held Tuesday at the Kennebec County jail in lieu of $15,000 cash bail.

Police received a call last week from the victim’s son, Nason said. The son, who holds power of attorney for his mother, discovered several unexplained withdrawals while checking his mother’s bank statements.

Hallowell police Officer Christopher Hutchings found Baron repeatedly checked his grandmother out of a Hallowell assisted living facility where she lives, took her to banks and prompted her to withdraw thousands of dollars, which he took, Nason said.

The 71-year-old woman suffers from mental problems that made her unaware that she was withdrawing the money, Nason said.

Police said the thefts occurred five times between July 19 and Aug. 8 and netted Baron $11,900.
Baron and his grandmother went to banks in Hallowell and Gardiner. Security cameras inside the banks confirm Baron’s presence with his grandmother, Nason said.

Baron admitted the thefts when questioned by police, Nason said.

“He said the money is spent,” Nason said. “He said he sent most of it to a friend.”

This was not Baron’s first run-in with the law. He was one of three people arrested in 2007 in an Augusta drug raid by Maine Drug Enforcement agents. Among the contraband seized was a .38-caliber handgun, drug-packaging materials and assorted drug paraphernalia.

Baron was arrested after he came into the Bangor Street home during the search.

Published reports indicate Baron was sentenced in 2008 to three years in jail, with all but 30 days suspended, and fined $400 for a conviction of unlawful trafficking in cocaine.

More recently, Baron was fined $150 in April in Augusta District Court on a conviction for failure to disperse, related to a March 19 incident in Augusta.

Nason said there is little hope in recovering the money Baron allegedly stole from his grandmother.
The thefts wiped out a large percentage of the woman’s savings, Nason said.

“She relies on this money to make sure she can live in a facility and be taken care of,” Nason said. “Now the family is really wondering what they are going to do.”