Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fleecing in Phoenixville?

"Fleece" -- "Swindle somebody out of money; to take too much money from somebody by cheating or overcharging" -- Microsoft® Encarta® 2006

Financial elder abuse
is often described in general terms with generic warnings to follow; but so often, the family & personal situations are not reported. Following is one case that provides details.

A news report, dated September 18, 2006, found online on the website of the
Phoenixville (PA) News , provides details about charges filed by the West Chester District Attorney's Office, of West Chester, PA, in a local District Justice Court against an elderly woman's grandchild in the nature of "multiple counts of forgery; bad checks; and receiving stolen property".

These charges were filed against defendant Kimberly Ann Wadsworth, 32, with a last known address on the 200 block of High Street, Phoenixville, PA, at the same time as additional charges were filed on other matters, including: criminal conspiracy; possession of a controlled substance, drugs, device or cosmetic; possession of drug paraphernalia; and recklessly endangering another person.

Wadsworth was ordered to stand trial in district court last Thursday, September 14, 2006, on forgery charges, after she allegedly stole several of her grandmother's checks to pay rent in July.

The article recites some details, derived from testimony, as follows:

According to court testimony, Terri Acevedo, the manager at Pennsylvania House Hotel, said she received four checks from Wadsworth that came back with a stop payment or account closed notice.

Acevedo said that Wadsworth passed four checks from an account belonging to her grandmother between the dates of July 15 and July 26.

Mike Martin of the Chester County District Attorney's Office presented the four checks to Acevedo for her inspection.

"The four checks, one for $175, $480, $400, and $270, were made out to Wadsworth from her grandmother," said Acevedo. "The checks were endorsed on the back by Wadsworth."

Acevedo testified that the $270 was a stop payment and the $480 check was cashed by her.

"I cashed the $480 for her because she said she needed the cash to get her car out of the shop," she said.

After telling the court that Wadsworth's rent is $170 weekly, Acevedo said that she'd spoken with Mary Ann Powell, Wadsworth's mother, in August.

"We spoke in August to let me know that the account to the checks was closed," she said.

Powell testified that she is the power of attorney for her mother since 2004, and she had to stop payment on some missing checks.

"There were checks from a Vanguard account and credit card checks," said Powell. "I got a call from Acevedo asking me if any of the checks were good, and I told her, 'No'."

Powell said she never gave Wadsworth permission to take or use the checks.

"She was allowed to write checks out before," she said. "My mother would sign them. However, these checks were taken from my home, and there are other checks that have been forged."

The article reports that, after hearing all of the testimony, District Justice Ted Michaels held the charges over for trial. The defendant was "remanded back to Chester County Prison on ten percent of $1,500 bail", with her next court appearance on this matter scheduled for Thursday, September 21, 2006, in the Court of Common Pleas of West Chester, Criminal Division.

The article can be read online