Update, 7:05 p.m. July 11, 2018: The Tulsa County District Attorneys Office announced at 5 p.m. that the charges against Leslie Ann Mansfield had been dropped after verifying the information with the Broken Arrow Police Department. Gatesway Foundation, which had reported the alleged embezzlement to investigators, released a corrected press release shortly thereafter stating that “Gatesway has no way of independently verifying the accuracy of information about the suspect, other than her name, as she has no affiliation with our organization.”A case of mistaken identity may have resulted in an innocent Tulsa woman being charged with two felonies and publicly accused by police, prosecutors and a Broken Arrow nonprofit organization of stealing more than $175,000 from the trust accounts of intellectually disabled people.
Leslie Ann Mansfield, 38, was charged by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office with exploitation of a vulnerable adult and embezzlement, both of which are felonies, and a warrant with a $10,000 bond was issued for her arrest. As of Wednesday morning, Mansfield had not yet been taken into custody.
However, investigators with the Broken Arrow Police Department said a mistake had been made in the paperwork that led to the charges, resulting in the wrong Leslie Mansfield being charged, an investigation by The Frontier has found.
Leslie Ann Mansfield is a retail employee with no connection to the Gatesway Foundation or its clients, a Frontier investigation found. Instead, police intended to file a case on Leslie E. Mansfield, 56, a former University of Tulsa law professor who had been awarded guardianship of at least five Gatesway clients in the past.
Yet it is Leslie Ann Mansfield’s name on the charging documents filed on July 2, a fact that will likely remain until it can be corrected possibly by early next week, a Broken Arrow police detective said. That means the wrong person — Leslie Ann Mansfield — has had a felony warrant for her arrest for more than a week.
Broken Arrow Det. Matt Barnes said he was told by the Tulsa County DA’s office a new warrant with the proper suspect name should be issued by Monday.
The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately return phone calls on Wednesday afternoon.
Alleged caretaker exploitation and embezzlement
According to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Broken Arrow Police Department, Mansfield allegedly stole funds from at least five intellectually disabled people who are clients at the Gatesway Foundation in Broken Arrow. Gatesway provides housing and employment assistance for individuals with developmental disabilities.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Broken Arrow Police Department, officers were called to the Gatesway Foundation’s main campus in late February on a report of possible caretaker exploitation and embezzlement.
A Gatesway employee told police they suspected Mansfield was taking money from some of the Gatesway clients for whom she managed trust accounts, according to a police report. Those accounts, which contained mostly federal and state funds, are set up to help pay for the individuals’ housing and living expenses.
In a media release, Gatesway credited DeDee Boatman, a veteran accounting employee at the organization with catching the issue and reporting it to the Department of Human Services’ Adult Protective Services, after the client’s court-appointed guardian failed to submit the paperwork, causing some of the clients to lose their state funding.
“I was sick when I found out the extent of the damage,” the media release quoted Boatman as saying. “Her (the court appointed guardian) failure to provide documentation caused two of our clients to lose their state funding, so it’s not just the missing money that affects our people. I’m just grateful we caught it when we did, and that we could be a voice for people who can’t fight for themselves.”
Mansfield had been placed in charge of the trust accounts of at least five Gatesway residents to oversee their yearly living expenses using money in the victims’ trust accounts, police said, but she had not provided the necessary bank statements and account information for the five residents to maintain the victims’ benefits and pay for their housing by Gatesway.
According to a statement by Gatesway on Wednesday, Mansfield was a court-appointed guardian of the five Gatesway clients, and not an employee or contractor of Gatesway itself.
“We did not select or approve her to provide any services,” Christal Pellerin, spokeswoman for Gatesway said. “We have no authority over the individuals who manage our clients’ trusts.”
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ Adult Protection Division also opened an investigation after being alerted by Gatesway staff, and found that, between 2012 and 2018, Mansfield had allegedly embezzled $88,968 from four clients currently living at Gatesway and $90,000 from the account of another resident who had died, police said.
Bank records and records provided to investigators by Gatesway showed that some of the money taken from the individuals’ accounts were used to purchase a cashier’s check for $20,144 made out to a Claremore auto dealership, police said.
A Broken Arrow police detective eventually contacted Mansfield, but she refused to be interviewed, court documents state.
Though the July 2 court filings identify a Leslie Ann Mansfield, a 38-year-old Tulsa resident, as the alleged perpetrator in the case, the address listed in the court paperwork did not correspond to Leslie Ann Mansfield’s home address, but rather to a Leslie E. Mansfield, a 56-year-old former University of Tulsa law professor and former attorney who specialized in elder law, probate cases and guardianship.
Records show that Leslie E. Mansfield served director of TU’s free Boesche Legal Clinic in the early 2000s, and was also one of the attorneys involved in a lawsuit against the city of Tulsa, Tulsa Police Department and the state seeking damages caused during the Tulsa 1921 race riot.
According to the Oklahoma Bar Association, Mansfield voluntarily surrendered her law license in 2007. Court documents show she continued to be involved in probate and guardian cases afterward, though not as a licensed attorney. Other records show she continues to hold a law license in New Mexico.
Mansfield also participated in at least one Gatesway Foundation community event in 2017 for parents of children with intellectual disabilities who were about to graduate high school, as part of a “Gatesway Foundation Inc./Vendor visitation and breakout sessions” seminar offering information on guardianship.
When visited at home by The Frontier on Tuesday morning, Leslie E. Mansfield declined to offer comment on the charges and said her attorneys would contact police regarding the arrest warrant.
“Is this for real?”
Meanwhile, Leslie Ann Mansfield — the woman who had been charged in the case — told The Frontier on Wednesday that she has never in her life been involved with overseeing Gatesway Foundation clients, guardianship cases or trust accounts for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Rather, she works at a retail store in Woodland Hills Mall.
“Is this for real? That’s crazy,” Mansfield said when told by The Frontier about the arrest warrant and charges against her. “Obviously, I’ll have to contact them (the County Sheriff’s Office) and get everything straightened out.”
On Wednesday, Broken Arrow Police Detective Matt Barnes, the chief investigator in the case, confirmed to The Frontier that the wrong Leslie Mansfield had indeed been charged in the case, and that the charges should have been against Leslie E. Mansfield. The error had gone unnoticed until brought to his attention by The Frontier the day before, he said.
Barnes said he sent the updated information to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office and that charges against Leslie E. Mansfield could be issued by Monday.
However, in response to inquiries by The Frontier sent to the Gatesway Foundation on Tuesday, Gatesway issued a media release to numerous news outlets early Wednesday morning that accused Leslie Ann Mansfield, 38, of allegedly committing the crimes against the Gatesway clients.
“According to an affidavit filed by Broken Arrow police, investigators determined Leslie Ann Mansfield, 38, allegedly embezzled nearly $90,000 from the trust accounts of four Gatesway residents beginning in 2012,” the media release states.
Despite having a felony warrant out for her arrest since July 2, Leslie Ann Mansfield seemed to take the information in stride when told by The Frontier about the situation.
Asked whether she would like to offer any thoughts about the charges mistakenly filed against her, Mansfield chuckled and responded “No. Shit happens.”
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