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Rocky River couple accused of stealing $800,000 from relative in retirement home

January 15, 2019

Rocky River couple accused of stealing $800,000 from relative in retirement home

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — A couple put in charge of a relative’s finances after he entered an assisted-living facility spent $800,000 of his money for their own personal use, including thousands at retail stores and also for Cavs and Browns tickets, investigators say.

Lori and Patrick Smith of Rocky River were indicted Tuesday on two first-degree felony charges of theft, two fifth-degree felony charges of forgery and a fifth-degree felony of identity fraud.

“This couple took advantage of a loving family member and left him with nothing,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement released by Rocky River police. “We will hold them accountable and seek reimbursement for every dollar they have stolen.”

According to police, Lori Smith is the niece of the 94-year-old victim and Patrick is her husband.

Investigators say the victim gave the Smiths power-of-attorney and named them executors of his will in February 2015 after his wife died, the same month he moved into assisted living. However, the document granting power-of-attorney said the couple could not use his money for personal benefit.

At that time, the victim had just over $1 million in assets, including checking, savings and investments. That same month, police say Lori Smith began consolidating the accounts to a single bank and began using the money for personal spending.

Months later, the victim also transferred ownership of his home to the couple since he could no longer live there, police say.

By September 2018, the couple had spent thousands on more than 3,800 transactions, which included $47,000 through Amazon, $25,000 at Costco, $25,000 at Lowe’s and $34,000 in cash withdrawals. The couple also purchased tickets to the 2015 NBA Finals and the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, and bought season tickets for the Browns.

The couple spent about $157,000 remodeling the home the victim gave them and also purchased at least one vehicle, a boat and a camping trailer, police say.

It’s estimated the couple spent $800,000 on themselves instead of for the care of the victim.

The theft was discovered when the bills were not being paid for the victim’s assisted living. Staff members at the facility called police in September when it was found that the victim’s savings account had dwindled to $4.94.

The victim has revoked the Smiths’ access to his accounts, police say. The retirement community and the bank have set up new accounts for the victim’s Veterans Affairs and Social Security benefits. County Adult Protective Services are also assisting.

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