Naples woman accused of pawning deceased client's jewelry

Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 18:28:40-05

A self-described "home health care worker" is accused of exploiting her deceased client. Investigators say Gloria Kleis, 59, stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, and pawned it off. 

"Patty had a habit of bringing people in and trying to help them," said Nina Kirker, who lives across the street from the former home of Patty Hayes on Estelle Drive in East Naples. She said Gloria Kleis lived with Hayes.

Kirker said when Hayes passed away on November 6, Kleis stayed in the house.

"Her boyfriend stayed in the house with her," Kirker said. "As far as I know, there was never any rent paid, never any utilities paid. In other words, they squatters."

According to a report from the Collier County Sheriff's Office, Kleis pawned 89 pieces of Hayes' jewelry on November 9, just a few days after Hayes' death.

"She said she pawned $5,800 worth of jewelry for a dignified, decent burial," Kirker said. "Another neighbor saw her wearing a beautiful diamond and ruby ring, and she said 'oh that was Patty's.'"

Haye's surviving relatives came to Naples from New Hampshire and demanded that Kleis return the money to the pawn shop, where they had to pay $590 to get the jewelry back.

They also wanted Kleis out of the house, but she wouldn't budge. They finally had her evicted on Wednesday. 

"It's important to make sure that the family is still involved with the elderly person, still checking in," said Angela Larson, supervisor of the Senior Advocacy Unit at the Collier County Sheriff's Office. "If (the elderly relative) starts to get isolated, that's where a lot of vulnerability starts."

Larson also recommends keeping a list of valuables with a trusted family member. Hayes did not have a will.

Kleis was arrested Thursday on charges of exploitation, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property.