WEST CHESTER ó An Elverson area businessman pleaded guilty Monday to stealing thousands of dollars from his aged motherís bank account, and using her credit card to make more than $10,000 in personal purchases.
Theodore Karwat Jr. admitted the thefts, as well as forging a bank statement that he tried to pass off to his sister as showing the details of his motherís account when she began asking questions about the 90-year-old womanís finances.
Karwat, 58, of West Nantmeal, is one of the operators, along with his wife, Bonnie Karwat, of the Goddard School in Morgantown. A former executive at PQ Corp. in Valley Forge, he is also the head of investment and management firms run out of his home ó firms to which he transferred money from his motherís account.
Defense attorney Evan Kelly of West Chester, who represented Karwat during the brief proceeding before Common Pleas Judge Anthony Sarcione, asked the judge to delay sentencing in the case so that his client could attempt to retrieve funds from his businesses in order to pay back the money he took from his motherís accounts Ė all in all about $225,000.
ďWe are doing what we can to make sure that restitution can be made,Ē Kelly told Sarcione during the hearing. He said that negotiations would take place involving the prosecution, led by Chief Deputy District Attorney Ronald Yen, and Karwatís sister, Kathryn Karwat Singer, and her attorney, who was also in court.
Sarcione allowed the sentencing to be postponed for 90 days. By then, Kelly said, the two sides may come to an agreement on what Karwatís ultimate sentence will be.
According to the set of circumstances laid out in the plea document and in other court records, in 2007 Karwat gained control of the finances of his then 83-year-old mother, Rose Karwat, after her husband, a New Jersey engineer, died. He urged her to sell her home in New Jersey and move to a home near where he lived with his wife in a modern development off Creek Road.
When she moved, according to the plea document, Karwat opened a bank account for her at National Penn Bank, transferring her money there. Having already gotten power of attorney for her, he made himself the only authorized signer for the account.
From September 2007 until May 2011, according to the plea, he took $214,089 from the account without his motherís knowledge or permission, and used it for his own, mostly business-related purposes.
The plea also states that Karwat used his motherís credit card to charge $10,503 in purchases at businesses from Home Depot and Wal-Mart to state liquor stores and also to pay his Verizon wireless account and car insurance.
When Singer, who lives in New York, began asking questions about her motherís finances, Karwat showed her a document that he said was a record of her National Penn Bank account. However, when Chester County Detective Edward Nolan, who began investigating the case after being tipped off by Singerís Downingtown area attorney, Jay Fisher, showed the document to bank officials, they said it was a forgery.
The plea also makes reference to a rental agreement that Rose Karwat signed to rent the house he moved her to. The house was owned by his son-in-law and stepdaughter. Although the rent was $2,000, he showed her a lease that called for rent of $2,200. The lease turned out to be a forgery, investigators learned when he tried to collect $26,000 in allegedly unpaid rent.
Karwat did not address Sarcione during the proceeding, except to answer questions about the rights he is giving up.