Cathy Areu, a journalist and former periodic Fox News guest known as the “Liberal Sherpa,” has been arrested in Miami on accusations that she kidnapped and financially exploited her elderly mother.
Areu, 51, was booked into a Miami jail early Friday on a host of felonies, including kidnapping, elderly exploitation and organized scheme to defraud.
Miami-Dade police detectives had been trying to arrest her since June, when a judge signed a warrant for her arrest. According to a Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office press release, she is believed to have been evading arrest and even took off to Mexico for a time.
Areu, who also goes by Cathy Areu Jones, remained jailed on Friday morning and it is unclear whether she had retained a defense attorney.
Investigators say they believe Areu may have made off with over $224,000 of her 88-year-old mother’s finances, including proceeds of a reverse mortgage from the mother’s house. Investigators also believe Areu made bank withdrawals from her mother’s banks accounts and opened credit cards in her name.
The probe began in 2019 when state welfare investigators received a report that Areu was exploiting her mother. The elderly woman’s home had been turned over to Areu via a quit claim deed, a document the victim denied ever signing, according to the press release. Areu later claimed that other people were exploiting her mother, and that the woman had brain damage or dementia, the report said.
According to her online profiles, Areu in the early 2000s was the publisher of Catalina magazine, which was “dedicated to breaking the stereotypes of Latinos in the U.S.” On her Fox News bio, which remains active on the network website, she also claims to have been an contributing editor for the Washington Post Magazine between 2000 and 2012.
Dubbing herself the “Liberal Sherpa,” Areu is a podcaster and was a frequent liberal voice on Fox News, the influential right-wing cable network.
But in July 2020, Areu and a network producer filed a lawsuit against some of the the network’s highest profile personalities: Tucker Carlson, Ed Henry, Sean Hannity and Howard Kurtz. Areu, who was a periodic unpaid guest on the network, alleged sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. A judge later dismissed the complaint, saying that as an unpaid guest, she did not have legal standing for the claims.
According to the press release, she is also accused of using a revoked power of attorney to twice involuntarily place her mother in an assisted living facility “in an attempt to gain control over her mother’s financial assets.”
Prosecutors say that on the first occasion, Areu admitted her mother to a facility after making the woman believe she was going on an “ice cream outing” with her granddaughters, who are Areu’s children. When the mother tried calling someone for help, Areu told the facility to stop her from using a phone or get visitors, prosecutors said.
On a second time, Areu and a cohort are accused of dragging the elderly woman from her home and transporting her to another facility. Alarmed neighbors called police after seeing the woman’s shoe in the driveway and the front door open, police said.
Both times, the elderly woman was ultimately released from the facilities after the Florida Department of Children and Families found she did not need to be in the homes.