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Published July 27, 2012, 04:09 PM

Civil Lawsuits Filed, Criminal Investigation Follows

Two elderly people say they're missing thousands of dollars in property and assets - - and now the Grand Forks County Commission faces two civil lawsuits. The elderly people say they were taken advantage of financially while under the guardianship and conservatorship of the former Grand Forks Public Administrator, Barbara Zavala.

Two elderly people say they're missing thousands of dollars in property and assets - - and now the Grand Forks County Commission faces two civil lawsuits.

The elderly people say they were taken advantage of financially while under the guardianship and conservatorship of the former Grand Forks Public Administrator, Barbara Zavala.

Zavala resigned from her position in late January - - the same day the County commission held a meeting behind closed doors to discuss an internal investigation.

A criminal investigation is underway.

Both 85-year-old Faith Krueger and 75-year-old Paul Veum have stated that they are missing thousands of dollars worth of items and have no idea where they went.

"I am just devastated by what happened!," Faith Krueger said.

85-year-old Faith Krueger and 75-year-old Paul Veum were unable to take care of themselves, and since neither of them had family, public administrator Barbara Zavala was appointed guardian and conservator for each of them. This is a common practice for those who can't care for themselves and do not have family. But Kreuger and Veum say things went downhill.

"Both were in an incapacitated state when taken advantage of," Attorney Tim Lamb said.

According to a criminal complaint, while Kreuger was in the hospital... her home, timeshare, gold coins, trip to Spain, personal property and furniture was all taken or sold.

"She has attested to the fact that she is missing over 300-thousand dollars worth of assets," Lamb said.

A criminal complaint says Veum was deprived of personal belongings... including his pickup. It says there were unaccounted withdrawals from his bank account and loss of personal property.

Total loss is estimated at nearly 50-thousand dollars.

"Basically he lost everything. Everything he had in personal assets, he does not know where they are," Paul Veum's Conservator Rodney Folkers said.

There is an ongoing investigation in this case and Attorney Tim Lamb says there may be other victims.

"We have two victims here of a horrendous act and we believe there are other victims out there and this is a notice to the public as well as putting faces on a story that's just devastating," Lamb said.

Grand Forks County has 21 days to respond... and the plaintiffs lawyer expects a response next week.

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