By Solomon Gustavo
DARWIN, MN - A Meeker County complaint alleges that Ann Zillmer, owner of a restaurant in Darwin, stole more than $200,000 from her mother.
Zillmer, 55, faces six felony counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, four of which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years. According to the Meeker County complaint, Zillmer is accused of taking $185,603, transferring it to the bank account for her restaurant and $34,183, which was used to pay off a loan under both Zillmer and her husband’s names.
According to Meeker County investigator John Wayne’s statement of probable cause, Meeker County Social Services became aware of the eviction of a vulnerable adult from an adult care facility in Winsted. In February, Zillmer’s mother was evicted due to nonpayment of rent, according to the complaint.
Zillmer was told by Wayne in March the funds in her mother’s accounts had been depleted, with most going to the adult care facility, according to the complaint. When Wayne asked Zillmer if all of the funds were spent solely for the benefit of her mother, Zillmer indicated that most of the funds had gone to her mother, the complaint alleges.
Wayne opened an investigation based on concerns raised by Zillmer’s mother’s eviction and Zillmer’s indication that most of her mother’s funds had been depleted, subpoenaing bank accounts held by Zillmer, according to the complaint. Upon reviewing bank statements, Wayne discovered numerous recurring transfers, later determined to refer to a bar in Darwin, A Blue Moose Pub and Grill, which is owned by Zillmer.
After this discovery, Wayne obtained and served more subpoenas on other bank accounts, according to the complaint, learning that Zillmer was using funds from her mother’s checking account to make payments on a loan taken out in Zillmer and her husband’s name.
Upon further investigation, Wayne discovered that Zillmer executed a power of attorney (POA) instrument, appointing Zillmer as her mother’s attorney-in-fact, according to the statement of probable cause. The POA authorized Zillmer to manage her mother’s financial, personal property, and other responsibilities, according to the complaint, and expressly stated that Zillmer was not authorized to transfer her mother’s property to herself.
According to the Minnesota statute referenced in the complaint, Zillmer’s mother was determined a “vulnerable adult,” which is to say, specifically, that she is an elderly woman who possessed both physical and mental infirmities and dysfunctions that impaired her ability to provide adequately for her own care.
In March, according to the complaint, Wayne went to Zillmer’s pub and grill and spoke with Zillmer about her mother’s finances. The complaint alleges that Zillmer states she had made numerous transfers from her mother’s account to the accounts of the pub and that the money will be gone in six months, forcing her to close the pub.
Zillmer initially appeared in court on Tuesday. She was released on own recognizance from Meeker County Jail that same day, posting a $50,000 bond. Her next court appearance is an omnibus hearing Thursday, Dec. 17 at 9:30 a.m.
Zillmer could not be reached for comment.