York DA: Daughter-in-law stole $157K from cop's widow

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Donna Guiles

The daughter-in-law of a police officer's widow stole more than $150,000 in cash and real estate from the elderly woman, who lives in a York City nursing facility, according to the York County District Attorney's Office.

Donna Guiles, 54, of the 400 block of Maple Street in Columbia, Lancaster County, remains free on $25,000 unsecured bail, charged with the third-degree felonies of theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception.

Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 28, according to court records.

Guiles told The York Dispatch there's more to the story than the allegations being made against her.

"The innocent are getting thrown to the wolves," she said. "It's ruining me."

The case: In January, Chief York County Detective Arthur Smith Jr. and the York County Area Agency on Aging began looking into the finances of 86-year-old Ethel Edelman, who in her younger years lived in a home in the same block of Maple Street as her son and Guiles, charging documents state.

It was Edelman's bank that alerted authorities to concerns that the widow was possibly being financially exploited by Guiles, who had power of attorney over Edelman's financial and legal matters for about a year, according to documents.

Union Community Bank in Lancaster froze Edelman's account on Dec. 12, documents state; five days later, Guiles' power of attorney was revoked.

A bank representative told investigators that she tried numerous times to reach Guiles but was unsuccessful, documents state.

Smith and the Area Agency on Aging determined that between Dec. 1, 2017, and Dec. 12, 2018, Guiles made 196 unauthorized charges against Edelman's bank account, none of which were for the widow and instead benefited Guiles, according to the DA's office.

The investigation also determined that Guiles, using her power of attorney, transferred Edelman's home to Guiles' two sons — Michael Guiles Jr. and Benjamin Guiles — for $1, according to charging documents, which state the home's assessed value is $125,600.

Smith went to Columbia and saw both Donna Guiles' home and the home where Edelman lived before going to a nursing home, documents state.

Home improvements: He discovered that Edelman's home had no recent improvements but that Donna Guiles' home had a new sliding glass door and the property had a new privacy fence, both paid for with Edelman's savings, documents allege.

About $14,300 of the widow's money went for home improvements at the Guiles house, according to documents.

The alleged unauthorized charges on Edelman's account happened at gas stations, hardware stores, state liquor stores, beverage stores, grocery stores, Target, Walmart and an online pet pharmacy service, documents allege. Her money also was spent on gas, Direct TV and furniture, police allege.

Smith visited Edelman, who graduated from York College and spent 31 years working for Armstrong Industries, retiring as a bookkeeper, documents state. Documents also note she was married to a Columbia police officer.

The widow said that her son, Michael Guiles Sr., initially had control of her finances before her daughter-in-law took over, according to documents.

Edelman also told Smith that her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren never visit her, according to charging documents.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.