LA MARQUE — New details emerged Friday in the case in which a La Marque school board member is accused of taking advantage of an elderly man and illegally obtaining the deed to his house and taking money from his estate.
Shirley Fanuiel, who faces a felony theft charge, was released from the county jail late Thursday after posting bond. She is accused of taking advantage of Wade Watkins and, by obtaining power of attorney, taking the retired Gaido’s chef’s house and an annuity.
In total, Fanuiel is accused of taking more than $100,000 in property and money from Watkins between 2009 and 2013. Watkins died last year.
It appeared the criminal investigation into the allegations against Fanuiel was underway at the time of Watkins’ death.
Fanuiel, a 16-year La Marque school board member, has yet to respond to The Daily News about the case.
She turned herself in at the Galveston County Jail on Thursday and was released on $60,000 bond.
Fanuiel is charged with felony theft of an elderly person. The charge carries extra weight since the victim was a senior citizen.
Court records obtained by The Daily News show accusations against Fanuiel surfaced in 2009 as Frank Nicholas, a friend of Watkins, filed a complaint with the county’s probate court claiming Fanuiel had improperly gotten the deed to Watkins house in La Marque.
In later filings, Nicholas alleged that Fanuiel fraudulently obtained power of attorney to also get control of Watkins’ Social Security payments and bank accounts.
The court twice ordered Fanuiel to account for all the financial records. Probate Judge Kim Sullivan also sent an investigator to check on the allegations.
Soon after, Sullivan ruled that the county’s senior services office become Watkins’ guardian. The judge allowed Watkins to live with Nicholas in Galveston.
The Galveston County District Attorney’s Office wouldn’t confirm when a criminal complaint was filed, but that the investigation was “a lengthy one,” Assistant District Attorney Donna Cameron said.