Feds say owner embezzled from elder care companies to buy $700K house

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A York County woman used embezzled funds and fraud to purchase a nearly $700,000 home, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The accusations in the new federal case against Melinda Bixler come while she’s still charged locally with funneling money through her two elder-care companies for several big-ticket or luxury expenses.

Bixler, 49, of Spring Garden Township, faces one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity. The case was filed Friday in federal court, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release. The case, which follows a multi-agency investigation that included the IRS, focuses on Bixler's purchase of a $685,000 home in York County, allegedly through a combination of false statements and funneled money.

According to prosecutors, Bixler submitted false statements to obtain a mortgage for the home from York Traditions Bank. The statements included an allegedly forged letter that claimed she no longer owed money on a business property she’d purchased even though payments were still being made.

Melinda R. Bixler

Bixler also allegedly claimed her son gave her $350,000 from his personal funds, but investigators said she actually moved the funds through a maze of transactions to disguise their sources. The release says that among the funds, $78,000 came from a 94-year-old client of Bixler's living in a nursing home in Lancaster County. Bixler allegedly had power of attorney for the client and access to their bank account.

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Bixler still faces seven felony charges — three counts of corrupt organization, two counts of theft, a count of conspiracy to commit theft and a count of receiving stolen property — in the York County case that was filed in January 2020.

Melinda R. Bixler

Investigators allege Bixler moved money from her West Manchester Township businesses, Elder Healthcare Solutions and the nonprofit agency Adult Care Advocates, to her personal bank accounts as well as her son’s.

Amid the alleged embezzlement, investigators said Bixler purchased the $685,000, five-bedroom home and a new Lexus, took her children and boyfriend on vacations that included Australia and the Caribbean, and possibly paid for her son’s drug rehabilitation program.

Around the same time, Elder Healthcare struggled financially, with investigators saying employee paychecks bounced, office utilities were shut off and taxes weren’t paid.

That company provided power-of-attorney services for people unable to manage their own finances, while Adult Care was intended to provide financial assistance to needy clients.

Bixler’s local case seems to still be stuck in limbo. Court documents show her preliminary hearing has been scheduled and postponed 10 times since January 2020, and it is now scheduled for May 23 before District Judge Keith Albright.

She was released on $200,000 bail in January 2020.

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Bixler’s son, Zachary Bixler, 24, is also charged with felony counts of corrupt organization and receiving stolen property. His case moved up to the York County Common Pleas court system in March 2020, according to court documents, and his trial was scheduled for March 2021, but it was continued.

He was released in January 2020 on $50,000 unsecured bail, which means he didn't post money up front, but he could be penalized up to that amount if he misses any court dates.

— Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.