Grandma accused of leaving 2-year-old in hot car arraigned

Mug shot of Karol Fitzgerald.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The woman who allegedly left her granddaughter in a hot car while shopping at a Grand Rapids-area Walmart was in court on Wednesday.

Karol Fitzgerald, 71, was arraigned in 63rd District Court in Kent County on one count of leaving a child in an unattended vehicle. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable up to 93 days in jail.

Her next court date has not been set.

A woman walking though the parking lot of the Alpine Avenue Walmart, north of 4 Mile Road, around 6:15 p.m. on May 22 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, Target 8 investigators 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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