Courtroom gavel
A courtroom gavel. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A man who worked as a caretaker for the elderly in North County has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three senior citizens and stealing property from other victims, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Monday.

Brandon Benavente, 26, pleaded guilty to 11 felonies related to sexual assault, financial and elder abuse and theft, while Benavente’s girlfriend and co-defendant Odaliz Mendez, also 26, also pleaded guilty to “multiple felonies relating to her involvement in the theft scheme,”  the AG’s Office said.

Benavente faces a prison sentence of at least 14 years. Mendez’s sentence will be determined on their sentencing date.

Prosecutors say that between December 2019 and December 2020, Benavente committed crimes against a resident at Vista Village Senior Living “and other victims throughout San Diego County.”

Benavente and Mendez took “jewelry, a handgun and thousands of dollars from their victims,” according to the Attorney General’s Office, which said the investigation was prompted in May 2020, when Benavente was caught on camera entering a resident’s room and taking cash from the resident’s wallet.

“Caretakers have the responsibility of ensuring that their clients are being treated with dignity, respect and care. Brandon Benavente made a choice to use his role as a caretaker to take advantage of those who depended on him for care. The countless acts of elder abuse that have been committed in this case are nothing short of despicable,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.