FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A former regular guest on Fox News stole at least $224,000 from her 88-year-old mother and unnecessarily put her into a nursing home twice against her will, including once dragging the woman from her home, Florida authorities said Friday.
Cathy Areu, who provided liberal commentary on several shows, is facing numerous felony charges including kidnapping, exploitation of the elderly and organized scheme to defraud. Miami-Dade County prosecutors say she falsified documents to take control of her mother's home, took money from her mother's reverse mortgage and savings account and took out credit cards in her mother's name and then used them for her own benefit.
"Every incident of alleged elder exploitation or abuse touches our heart and never fails to shock us. It seems particularly harder to understand when the alleged perpetrator of the exploitation is a daughter, or a son or another blood relative," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.
According to Areu's Fox News profile, she is a former contributing editor for the Washington Post Magazine, where she did political interviews from 2001 to 2012, and in 2001 founded the magazine Catalina. It sought to "break stereotypes and show a positive side of the U.S. Hispanic community." She also hosted the "Liberal Sherpa" podcast.
In 2018, Areu, 51, was a regular unpaid guest on conservative commentator Tucker Carlson's show and appeared on other Fox News shows. In 2020 she sued the network, Carlson, Sean Hannity and others, claiming sexual harassment, but a judge dismissed the suit the following year.
Details of Areu's arrest were not released, but prosecutors said she had been evading authorities since June, including spending time in Mexico. She was being held without bond Friday at the Miami-Dade County Jail. Court and jail records do not show if she has an attorney.
According to prosecutors, the investigation began in 2019 when state officials received reports that Areu was exploiting her mother. Paperwork had been filed turning over the mother's house to Areu, but the mother denied the signature was hers.
They say Areu also used a revoked power of attorney to twice place her mother in a nursing home against her will. In the first case, they say Areu tricked her mother into believing she was being taken to have ice cream with her granddaughters, but was instead taken to a home. When the mother tried to call a friend for help, Area allegedly told the staff not to let her use the phone or see visitors.
After doctors and officials found the woman competent to make her own decisions and released her to go home, prosecutors say Areu and another person dragged her from the house and took her to another facility. Again, the woman was released after she was found competent and asked to go home.
Authorities say the investigation is ongoing.