This is one of several photos of the Vinalhaven home taken at the end of 2020 that were submitted as evidence in the lawsuit against the property’s caretaker to demonstrate that the property was not being maintained. Photo from court filing

A Vinalhaven woman was ordered to return $300,000 to a retired German law professor after she was accused of taking advantage of his dementia while serving as the caretaker of his summer home.

On Friday, an eight-person jury in the U.S. District Court in Portland found that Angelyn Olson, 58, used her unrestricted access to her employer’s accounts to spend more than $4.5 million – including payments to herself totaling roughly $650,000 – between 2013 and 2020, betraying his trust.

Olson had complete discretion to care for Andreas von Hirsch’s property and pay his expenses. She also was granted power of attorney for von Hirsch in the United States in 2016.

“The main thing is that we asked the jury, at the end of the day, for accountability,” said Sigmund Schutz, von Hirsch’s attorney. “We were relieved that the jury did that.”

Olson had served as a caretaker for von Hirsch’s summer home – which he bought in 1975 – for decades, inheriting the job from her father-in-law after his death in 2006 until she was replaced by a new caretaker late in 2020.

As part of her job, she “had complete discretion to care for the property and unrestricted access to von Hirsch’s Maine bank accounts to pay his expenses,” the original complaint states. “Von Hirsch provided her with all the money she asked for to attend to his affairs, without asking questions and without any budget.”


But in a series of court suits, Olson argued that she herself was a victim, and that every purchase had been approved, though usually not in writing.

“The Olsons trusted him, they believed him. They had known him for 40 years,” said John Robert Miller Jr., Olson’s attorney. “He’s a lawyer, a law professor, he’s written 15 books on the law. And the Olsons trusted him.”

Miller declined to make Olson available for an interview Monday but said she plans to appeal the case.

Von Hirsch, a retired law professor who spends most of the year in Frankfurt, said in court filings that he was known to be generous with friends. And when he was diagnosed in 2013 with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and causes difficulty with walking and coordination, Olson was keenly aware of how the disease made him vulnerable to exploitation, Schutz wrote in court filings. (Schutz also has represented the Press Herald in cases involving the First Amendment.)

By the time von Hirsch’s Parkinson’s progressed and he began experiencing more cognitive symptoms of the disease, he had “complete faith and trust” in Olson, according to his complaint, and “paid little attention to her compensation as his caretaker.” In one instance in 2019, he left several signed blank checks in her care, at her request.

Because of the progression of his disease, U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen ruled that he was not fit to testify as a witness in his own trial and appointed his personal assistant, Diana Wilke, to be a plaintiff in his place. Wilke declined, through Schutz, to comment on the ruling Monday.



According to court filings, von Hirsch first discovered the excessive spending in 2020. While Olson was authorized to spend money without a budget, there was very little documentation about where the money was going.

“Von Hirsch has little or nothing in the way of invoices, contracts, accountings or documentation regarding these expenditures, and cannot confirm whether they all in fact relate to von Hirsch’s home,” the complaint states.

Olson ramped up her spending only in recent years, upping her pay from $25,000 a year in 2013 to $10,000 per month plus bonuses by 2019, even during months when von Hirsch wasn’t in Maine “and Olson had little or nothing to do,” the complaint states.

She’s also accused of paying her son and husband $150,000. In total, the family received about $900,000 from von Hirsch’s account, according to the complaint. There also were various personal charges for restaurants, spa trips and women’s clothing, the complaint states, and she purchased a $53,000 tractor and a Peloton bike, as well as a subscription for Peloton classes.

Some of the spending did relate to her official caretaker duties, but von Hirsch’s attorneys argued that the costs were far higher than necessary.


Bank records showed Olson spent at least $1.4 million on his sailboat, and more than $730,000 on home improvements. The renovations included a new kitchen and bathroom, as well as a new outdoor deck.

In 2019, Wilke – then a research assistant for a legal center von Hirsch ran in Frankfurt – became concerned when she realized Olson had taken over his finances and “von Hirsch was in the dark about much of what she was doing, including suspicious large transactions.”

Von Hirsch’s complaint argued that Olson was well aware of the issue and that her boss was vulnerable, but while he was in Maine that summer, Olson took him to the bank so he could put her on a joint account – into which von Hirsch deposited “hundreds of thousands of dollars” each year – so that upon von Hirsch’s death, all the money in that account would go to her.

“There was no legitimate reason for Olson to have insisted on changing the main account to a joint account,” the complaint states.

Wilke, who took over as his personal assistant, began asking Olson to explain various large expenditures soon afterward. The complaint notes Olson repeatedly failed to provide accounting records.

Von Hirsch hired a new caretaker for the Vinalhaven property in November 2020, and his attorneys notified Olson in December that she had been replaced. In January 2021, she received a formal letter from his lawyers requesting all accounting records for her spending.

His attorneys said she never provided the records.

Instead, Miller, Olson’s attorney, wrote Schutz back the following week – months before von Hirsch filed his complaint – asking that Olson be paid an hourly rate for any “orderly transition” work and that von Hirsch’s questions could all be answered by documents in his summer home. No one who searched the home could find any records.

Olson filed at least three counterclaims, saying that von Hirsch violated his contract with Olson by not paying her for the last few months of 2020. While the jury agreed von Hirsch did breach that contract, they decided against rewarding Olson any back pay.

The jury did agree to reward Olson $5,000 for a couple of items of art in von Hirsch’s home that legally belonged to her family, including a painting of Bill Olson and a model of the summer house.

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