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Caretaker charged in scheme to steal condo, stocks & more from prominent BR business owner

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BATON ROUGE — The caretaker of the husband of a prominent interior designer in Baton Rouge was indicted last week for exploitation of the infirmed.

Watch live newscasts on WBRZ+ here. 

Beth Claybourn Interiors sits at the corner of Perkins and Highland roads near Interstate 10 and offers opulence and luxury design services to the wealthy. Unbeknownst to Claybourn, 20 days before her husband's death, his caretaker Melba Braud named herself in his will.

Claybourn declined to do an on-camera interview but said the will was drafted to benefit Braud while Garrett Claybourn was battling dementia. She said the caretaker had only been around for about four months when the will was changed. 

The change drew the attention of prosecutors.

"We looked at the evidence and talked to a lot of people and engaged the Louisiana State Police, and they did a thorough investigation and provided us the notes... and we decided to present to a grand jury last week," District Attorney Hillar Moore said.

Melba Braud is accused of three felony charges. A grand jury formally accused her of creating power of attorney without Garrett Claybourn's consent. The indictment also alleges she named herself in a will without consent and spent Claybourn's money without his consent.

"At the time that he was hospitalized initially, there was a flurry of events that occurred," Moore said. "Changing of power of attorney and a will being changed significantly and a lot of money and assets that caused concerns among family members."

The will that was drafted listed Braud as the beneficiary to the couple's $2 million Destin condominium, all of his stocks and bank accounts, all of his guns, and half of his stake in his wife's interior design business, Beth Claybourn interiors.

If convicted, Braud faces up to 10 years in prison and will have to pay a fine. If convicted, she would also lose her stake of being named in the will.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened.

In 2017, the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed Tasha Clark Amar at the Council on Aging. She named herself in one of her elderly client's wills and was set to benefit thousands of dollars until she was exposed. Clark Amar backed away from the will after she was exposed. She was not arrested, and many people believe it had something to do with her mother's influence. Her mom, Janice Clark, was a sitting judge at the 19th Judicial District Court at the time.

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