By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

The case against Del Norte County employee VeAnn Toreson by the District Attorney's office was dismissed yesterday after a andquot;civil compromiseandquot; was reached.

Toreson was accused last month of financial elder abuse against Mary Kerns, who died two years ago at the age of 87.

Del Norte County District Attorney Bob Drossel pressed criminal charges against Toreson for allegedly spending money not in the best interest of Kerns and abusing the power of attorney she had over Kerns' estate.

andquot;The complaint alleged that Ms. Toreson ... failed to keep estate property separate (from her own) resulting in financial irregularities,andquot; Drossel said.

When Kerns died in Sept. 2000, a two-year investigation of Toreson was launched after several different styles of handwriting were found in Kerns' checkbook, according to Drossel.

A resolution was reached Friday when Toreson agreed to forego the $16,886 willed to her by Kerns and pass it on to the Del Norte County High School Scholarship Foundation.

andquot;They were the residual receivers in the will,andquot; Drossel said, meaning the scholarship foundation was named in the will to get whatever was left of the estate after Toreson got her share.

According to Drossel, prosecuting the case became difficult because witnesses moved out of the area and primary witness Kerns was deceased.

Toreson had no comment about the resolution, but her attorney Rick McClendon said Toreson was emotionally devastated by the criminal charges initially brought against her.

andquot;Her relationship with Mary was never about money. She was devastated that she was being accused of taking money from her friend,andquot; McClendon said.

When asked if anything was found missing from the Kerns estate, McClendon said inconsistencies in the checking account record keeping were found, but were not enough of a foundation for criminal charges.

Toreson works for the Del Norte County Department of Health and Social Services.

According to Drossel, she will receive no money from the Kerns estate.