Caregiver admits she stole jewelry from elderly, mute woman by pleading guilty to felony theft

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A criminal caregiver is admitting she stole jewelry and other items from an elderly woman with a disease that has robbed her of muscle movement and the ability to speak.

Barb Loseke, 54, pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge inside a Jackson County courtroom on Thursday.

Judge Mary Weir will decide Loseke’s punishment for stealing from 91-year-old Lu Jouras at a later sentencing date on November 3.

Loseke was the focus of a 41 Action News investigation in May which exposed how she slipped through the cracks, continuing to work inside people’s homes while avoiding detection or serious punishment.

Peter Jouras shared his story about hiring Loseke to care for his mother while he worked his full-time job.

However, Peter Jouras quickly noticed items missing from the home and said Loseke even showed up one day wearing one of his mother’s T-shirts.

Peter Jouras filed a report with Kansas City police. A detective reviewed Loseke’s pawn shop activity and found several transactions coinciding with the time Loseke worked inside the home in June 2013. One of the items sold for cash was Lu Jouras’ 1941 class ring.

"I just don't understand how someone can sleep at night when they do that to someone in that helpless condition," Jouras told 41 Action News. "My mom was completely aware of what was going on, but she was trapped and couldn't say anything. That bothers me a lot."

41 Action News discovered Peter Jouras’ story was not an isolated incident. In fact, Loseke was convicted of stealing from an elderly Kansas City, Kan., woman in June 2013, the exact same time she worked in Peter Jouras’ home.

In the Wyandotte County case, the caregiver agency placed hidden cameras in a bedroom and caught Loseke taking items from drawers. That conviction for mistreatment of a dependent adult earned Loseke a year of probation and $12,500 in restitution.

A separate felony theft charge also surfaced in Johnson County, which involved stealing valuables from an ex-boyfriend. That case also resulted in probation and restitution.

Finally, the initial 41 Action News report also raised concern for the family of an Overland Park man with dementia.

After watching the story, Ed Harnett’s kids reviewed their father’s bank transactions because they remembered Loseke had briefly worked inside the home in January 2013.

Financial records showed the 71-year-old Harnett wrote six different checks over a 10-day period to Loseke for cleaning the house. The checks totaled $2,500.

"The time for leniency is over," Jouras told 41 Action News after the guilty plea on Thursday. "I think more probation just sends the wrong message to other people who victimize the elderly. She is a serial offender and I think she's the perfect one to make an example of."

At the sentencing date, prosecutors could argue for up to a seven-year term behind bars and a $5,000 fine.

Loseke's attorney, John Humphrey, declined to speak with 41 Action News about the case.

But during the court proceeding, Loseke told the judge she had a developmental disability and had sought care from doctors for a number of years.

However, she admitted she knew what she did was wrong and acknowledged it could not be used as a defense in the case.

After the guilty plea, Humphrey said Loseke fainted near the entrance to the Criminal Justice Building.

41 Action News later saw an ambulance transporting her from the area.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com . You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook .

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