Local News

Elderly disabled man’s helper accused of misusing prepaid card

— A 25-year-old helper for a developmentally disabled man is accused of fraudulently using his Social Security money to pump gas for his own personal car, a Highlands County Sheriff’s Office report states.

Joshua Gerena, 2761 W. Metuchen Road, Avon Park, used to be a Ridge Area Arc “supportive living coach” for the victim and was in charge of overseeing his care and finances since he could not handle those responsibilities on his own, an arrest report states.

A part of the victim’s Social Security money is put on a prepaid Visa Card and Gerena’s job was to check the card out and accompany him when he needed to buy something, authorities say.

On three occasions in December, Gerena is accused of using the victim’s card to gas up.

A Highlands County deputy wrote in his report that surveillance footage showed Gerena allegedly buying gas for the victim and then purchasing $20 of fuel for his own vehicle. On the two other times, Gerena is accused of using the victim’s card for the same reason, the report states.

He is charged with misdemeanor larceny petit theft and exploitation of the elderly.