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Victim's relative reacts to accountant's admitted theft to support gambling addiction

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Imagine taking advantage of some of those who can least protect themselves. That's what 53-year old CPA Brian Strand is accused of doing to a 92-year old woman under Alzheimers care in an aging facility on Swift Road.

"We found that her CPA was in charge of her trust and he was making massive withdrawals to, what he later told us, to fund his gambling addiction," said Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Wendy Rose.

Those massive withdrawals totaled $195 thousand dollars.

We spoke to a relative of the victim who lives outside the area on the phone. She said, "The initial reaction was, 'oh my gosh, what do we do now?' The stress that our family has been under, I don't wish on any family."

Strand worked out of an office complex on Bee Ridge Road near Honore. He lived in an upscale home near The Oaks in Osprey. We knocked on the door but the person inside didn't answer. Neighbors are shocked.

"It's very very sad," said Rikki Gilligan who described Strand as quiet and rarely said "hi."

The victim's relative said they've learned a hard lesson about trust.

"As we care for aging relatives, it's important to watch for signs of individuals who may not have that person's best interest at heart," she said.

And as for the missing money, the Sheriff's spokesperson doesn't know if the victim will be reimbursed.

"If he's been spending it on gambling, it's safe to say that money is gone," Rose said.

Strand and his lawyer posted $20,000 bond. He's facing a felony count of Elderly Exploitation.