Dispatcher on administrative leave pending court proceedings
The Monroe County dispatcher accused of illegally removing funds from his deceased mother-in-law’s bank account with his wife’s assistance is on paid administrative leave, according to the county’s personnel director.
Richard Laxton, 51, and Batina Laxton, 42, were each charged with four counts of misdemeanor theft after allegedly using a debit card and PIN to remove funds from Linda Talbert’s bank account after she passed away Nov. 28, 2016.
The police department received a complaint from a State Bank of Sparta employee on Dec. 22 regarding possible fraudulent activities with Talbert’s account, as there had been recent withdrawals from the account. The employee identified the Laxtons on the bank’s ATM surveillance footage
According to the criminal complaint, Batina told officers that she knew funds from the Social Security Administration were automatically deposited into her mother’s account at the beginning of each month. Batina allegedly claimed that her mother verbally told her before she passed away, she transferred everything over to Batina.
She also told officers she felt she could do with the money what she wished because she was responsible for paying her mother’s bills and current debts after she died. She admitted to using some of the money for Christmas gifts.
Records indicate $526.41 had been removed from the account in two ATM withdrawals and two purchases at an area convenience store. Although Richard was driving at the time the ATM withdrawals took place, Batina claimed he did not know they were using Talbert’s card.
Because of Talbert’s recent passing, the SSA had not stopped payment to her account. When the SSA reclaimed the $911.42 deposit after learning about her death, the bank account was left with a negative balance of $1,300.
The bank employee told officers that in the case of a death, proper documentation would need to be provided and forms completed to allow a family member to legally withdraw funds from the account, which had not been done by Batina or anyone else at that time. Batina said she did not contact the bank regarding the account because her mother had given her the debit card and PIN.
Richard, who also served as the Kendall police chief from 2007 to 2014, was put on paid administrative leave after his supervisor became aware of the pending charges, and the county will reassess the situation as the case progresses.