Knox Man Sentenced to Prison for $250k Theft from Elderly Aunt

Wednesday November 7th 2012
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CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – A 58-year-old Knox man was sentenced to serve time in state prison in connection with the theft of over $250,000 from his elderly aunt.

David Lynn Patton, of Knox, was found guilty on September 18 in Clarion County Court of Common Pleas on over 90 counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking and Failure to Make Required Disposition in connection with the theft of over $250,000 from 88-year-old Betty Wetzel between January 2007 and May 2010.

This morning in Clarion County Court of Common Pleas, Judge James G. Arner sentenced Patton to 2.5 to 5 years in state prison.

“This case was a collaborative effort of Clarion Area Agency on Aging; William Craddock, Pennsylvania State Police; Drew Welsh and Alexis Rupert, District Attorney’s office; and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.”, said Toni Forsythe, an investigator who worked on the case for Clarion Area Agency on Aging.  “I spent months gathering financial statements and adding figures. Thanks to funding provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging I was able to contract a Fraud Examiner.”  The investigation was initiated in March of 2010 when Ms. Wetzel, who lives in Clarview Nursing Home, contacted the Clarion Area Agency on Aging after she was told that her account with the assisted living facility was overdue.

After an initial investigation, Clarion Area Agency on Aging with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police Trooper William Craddock began to look further into the matter.  Investigators determined that Patton, who was appointed as his aunt’s power of attorney, cashed in his aunt’s investment accounts and a life insurance policy and deposited the money into her checking accounts.  It was then determined that Patton unlawfully cashed several checks written out to himself and also wrote several checks out to businesses, including a casino in Erie, restaurants, a grocery store, a car dealership, and a sporting goods store.  Sources say he drained Ms. Wetzel’s money market account and also cashed in two annuities valued at approximately $90,000, 12 CD’s, and an IRA.

“Betty worked all of her life and saved little amounts at a time. She invested her money wisely and planned so that she could live comfortably and pay for the care she would need as an older adult. She now lives in half of a nursing home room and her care is paid for by medical assistance.” said Forsythe.

Ms. Wetzel says she trusted her nephew and never thought that he would steal from her.  “I always trusted him and thought he was a good nephew, but today I wouldn’t trust him at all. When I gave him Power of Attorney, I never thought he would do this to me. He took all the money I had.”, Ms. Wetzel told exploreClarion.com in an earlier interview.

Officials say Patton, who is represented by Attorney Ralph Montana, plans to appeal and will remain on house arrest.

“Financial exploitation is the fastest growing form of elder abuse in this state. I certainly hope that this case will serve as a deterrent, that the people will take note of the fate that could await them should they financially exploit one of our elderly citizens.”, Forsythe added.

This article was written for and published by ExploreVenango.com

Editor’s Note:  This case was a joint investigative effort of the Clarion County Office of Aging, the Clarion County District Attorney’s Office, the PA State Police, and the PA Department of Aging’s Institute on Protective Services at Temple University.

 

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