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.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

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(10) comments

Robert Buckner

Unbelievable, almost. And yet she's still a trustee?

Andy Aycoth

Greedy! I believe she will get what she deserves in the end .
Don't know how she can live with herself!

Leonard T. Payne

I wonder how many more senior citizens she has screwed over.

gulfcoastexan
Larry Kirkendall

Hmm, "we will improve", how about starting with this trustee's resignation?

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

According to Wikipedia:

"Trustee (or the holding of a Trusteeship) is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, can refer to any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility for the benefit of another.

[1] Although the strictest sense of the term is the holder of property on behalf of a beneficiary,[1] the more expansive sense encompasses persons who serve, for example, on the Board of Trustees for an institution that operates for the benefit of the general public".

Could Shirley have been simply confused regarding the part that says, "operates for the benefit of the general public" with, "operates for the benefit of self from the general public"?

Perhaps if I had as many supporters in the community that supposedly voted to keep Shirley in her seat for as many years as she was, I'd think she perhaps owes them the courtesy of even a simple statement through the GDN acknowledging the allegations made against her at the very minimum.

Where there's smoke there's usually fire and to not give a comment to the newspaper certainly raises lot's of eyebrows and further distrust in not only her, but to all of her supporters!

JBG JBG

I'm not surprised she is still a trustee. She fits right in with what they stand for. Why should I be surprised? If they would ask her to leave,...it would be like a situation the Late Jon Wayen once posted on this forum a few years ago,...He said something like that would be like the following:
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Then Mr. Pot told Mr. Kettle,...."YOU SIR ARE BLACK!"

Robert Buckner

MM, Shirley isn't the only one confused by the term "trustee". The entire board is confused, what a pathetic, incompetent crew.

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

LOL Robert and Mr. JBG, very true!

Andy Aycoth

If she stole your house would you be OK with this!

JBG JBG

I know the perfect attorney for her. She needs the kind of attorney who does his work the same way she has been doing her work for LMISD for the last twenty years.
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I'm just playing!!!!! However it drives home a point I have continuously worked to make on this forum about the incompetent work the board she sits on has performed for us over the years.
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What if one of their surgeons performed surgery on them the way they have performed as Trustees? Don't work me to hard now,...I'm just an Ole West Texas Ploy Boy, trying to get byeeeee! [smile]
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PS If I'm not mistaken, that is a BIG HOUSE crime they are accusing her of.

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