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Fayette County Courthouse

WEST UNION — A trial date has been set for a daughter accused of stealing $145,175 over about four years from her mother, who is a memory ward in a West Union nursing home.

Mary Ellen Schmelzer, 54, of Huxley, has pleaded not guilty to the felony charges of first-degree theft and ongoing criminal conduct.

Schmelzer is being represented by Oelwein attorney John W. Hofmeyer III.

Fayette County District Court Judge Richard Stochl on Tuesday scheduled Schmelzer’s trial to begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 12, in the courthouse in West Union. Plea negotiations should be finished by Nov. 2, when a pretrial conference is scheduled, he said in his order.

According to the criminal complaint filed March 19, Schmelzer had power of attorney for her mother and wrote checks from her mother’s account on a monthly basis from April 2016 to February 2020 to pay her own bills and “live her life style (sic) of spending.” The accumulated total was $145,175.

A physician had determined that Schmelzer’s mother was not able to receive and evaluate information effectively or make decisions, the complaint says.

Ongoing criminal conduct is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. First-degree theft is a Class C felony, punishable by up to to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.