Grandma charged with leaving 2-year-old in hot car

An undated courtesy photo of Karol Fitzgerald.

ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The woman who allegedly left her granddaughter in a hot car while shopping at a Grand Rapids-area Walmart has been charged.

Karol Fitzgerald, 71, was charged by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday with one count of leaving a child in an unattended vehicle. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable up to 93 days in jail, according to a news release from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

She was arrested on Thursday and released on a $500 cash bond, the release said.

A woman walking though the parking lot of the Alpine Avenue Walmart, north of 4 Mile Road, around 6:15 p.m. Saturday saw the child in the back seat of the 2009 Dodge Challenger and called 911.

When a deputy arrived, the 2-year-old was sweating, her face was red and she wasn’t waking up. Kent County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Ysquierdo broke a window and got her out of the car.

The child was taken to the hospital with signs of heat exhaustion, but is expected to make a full recovery.

In January 2015, Fitzgerald was accused by the federal government of creating false deductions, fake business expenses and misrepresenting income to get bigger returns for clients. Federal investigators estimate the government lost out on more than $11 million in 2010 and 2011 alone because of the fraud.

She did not face any criminal charges, but the government asked a judge to bar HER from preparing taxes.

In November 2013, federal authorities raided Fitzgerald’s home in Cedar Springs. They took boxes and boxes of files from the unsecured house, out of which she ran her business and which was she was losing to foreclosure.

When Target 8 went to the house the weeks after the feds, we found tax documents that were left behind in burn barrels and scattered around the yard. Fitzgerald told Target 8 that she thought her son had burned all the files. Target 8 called authorities, who later collected the documents.

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