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Florida woman steals $100,000 from longtime friend, investigators say

An Orlando woman has been charged with stealing $120,000 from her friend of more than 20 years, investigators say.

Deborah Joan McNeil, 64, was appointed guardian over Eva Watson in August 2015 after Watson had a debilitating stroke, police said.

“I knew that she was taking money,” said John Wolking, co-guardian of Watson’s estate.

McNeil has been charged with grand theft and exploitation of the elderly.

Wolking said McNeil would have eventually received Watson’s inheritance had she waited until after her death.

"It really comes down to she did not understand what wills mean. Wills mean after death, not before death,” Wolking said.

McNeil is accused of writing checks to herself from Watson’s checking account and would also use the woman’s credit cards, police said.

McNeil was removed as Watson's guardian in February 2016.

McNeil told police that she was "protecting the money."

According to court documents, the judge overseeing the guardianship case waived bond for McNeil.

WFTV legal analyst and former Chief Judge Belvin Perry said that should never happen.

"The guardian should be required to post a bond just in case the guardian does something that's illegal, like stealing money. Now you have an estate that will have to go after this individual to try and recover the money,” Perry said.

Watson died in January.

Police said McNeil has paid back $45,000 to Watson’s estate.