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Woman Allegedly Tricked Husband Into Thinking He Has Alzheimer’s, Which Was His Greatest Fear, In $600K Scheme

Donna Marino allegedly stole money from her husband for years while gaslighting him about the missing funds.

By Gina Tron
Donna Marino

A Connecticut woman is accused of defrauding her own husband out of more than a half-million dollars over two decades and then of gaslighting him into thinking he had Alzheimer's Disease in an effort to cover her tracks.

Donna Marino, 63, was arrested last week by the East Haven Police Department and charged with first-degree larceny and third-degree forgery. The arrest was the conclusion of a months-long investigation into Marino’s financial affairs.

"Through the investigation, it was determined that Ms. Marino would forge her husband's signature on his pension checks, social security checks, worker's compensation settlements, and other legal documents, before depositing the funds in a secret bank account without his knowledge," police wrote in a press release, obtained by Oxygen.com.

Marino allegedly admitted to the fraud allegations and to tricking her 78-year-old husband into thinking he had memory problems.

"Ms. Marino advised investigators that she was able to hide her fraudulent activities over the years by convincing her husband that he was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease," police alleged in the press release. "She further stated that she believed that convincing him that he had Alzheimer's Disease would prevent him from going to the bank, ultimately to discover the low balances on his accounts."

Still, her alleged scheme didn’t completely trick her family. Both her husband and adult daughter grew suspicious and contacted the police in 2020, New Haven Police Capt. Joseph Murgo confirmed to Oxygen.com via email on Thursday.

At that point, Marino’s husband alleged to police that Marino had bee stealing his money “as far back as 1999,” according to the press release.  

“He further stated that Ms. Marino controlled all of his finances during their time together and that he had no idea that she was stealing from him,” police wrote.

The victim’s family told WFSB in Hartford that getting diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was his biggest fear as watched his mother suffer from the disease.

“She [Marino] was making up stories in the morning telling him that he was running around the house chasing her,” the adult daughter of the victim, Elena, told the outlet. Elena is not the daughter of Donna, who married her dad in 2009.

Elena says that her dad now lives with her in Florida and still suffers feelings of betrayal from the whole ordeal.

“He thinks about it just every so often he just can’t believe the trauma,” she said.

Elena said that telling her dad about what his wife allegedly did to him was one of the toughest moments in their relationship.

“He’s looking at me and he’s going, ‘Honey is this true am I broke? And I said, 'Yeah Dad, you are broke' ... and he’s crying,” she told WFSB. “Imagine your father crying to you. It was awful. ... And he’s like, ‘Do I have Alzheimer’s, do I have Alzheimer’s?’ And I’m like 'Dad, you do not have Alzheimer’s. She’s lying to you.'”

Marino is being held on a $25,000.00 bond. It’s not clear if she has a lawyer.

“This case highlights the importance of really staying invested and involved in the financial dealings of our elderly population,” Murgo said in a statement. “Although these crimes span across many years, if it weren’t for Mr. Marino’s family discovering these financial discrepancies, Ms. Marino might have gotten away with this for longer. Check on your family, ask the tough questions, and don’t be afraid to dig deeper if something doesn’t seem right. In many instances, people get taken advantage of because they don’t have the right people looking out for their best interest. This case, and the justice hopefully to follow, prove what is possible when we are invested in our family’s well-being.”