SEBEC, Maine — A local man and woman who allegedly bilked an 82-year-old blind man out of nearly $20,000 were arrested Friday on charges of forgery and theft.
Herbert Swartz, 76, and Elizabeth “Bess” Cutler, 59, who allegedly used the stolen money to pay their mortgage, purchase oil and to buy items on eBay, are expected to make their initial court appearance Feb. 23 in 13th District Court in Dover-Foxcroft.
If convicted, Swartz and Cutler could be sentenced to prison for up to 10 years and fined $10,000 on each of the Class B charges. Since the couple allegedly purchased items from the man’s account over the Internet, federal charges may be pending, according to investigator Guy Dow of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department.
Swartz and Cutler befriended the man — who winters in Stony Point, N.Y., and summers in Sebec Village — and took him on errands to the bank and grocery store over the summer, according to Dow.
Earlier this month, the man’s son started quizzing his father on why he was spending so much money from his bank accounts, some of which were overdrawn. The theft then was discovered, according to Dow. Swartz and Cutler allegedly had been spending money from the man’s bank and credit card accounts from July 3 through early December.
Dow subpoenaed the man’s bank records and discovered purchases allegedly made by Swartz and Cutler. A search warrant was executed at the couple’s Moulton Hill Road home Friday.
During that search, Dow said a note found in Swartz’s pocket bore the man’s credit card number.
Swartz told police the man had allowed them the use of his accounts, Dow said. The man told Dow that he definitely had not authorized their use of his accounts.
The couple not only allegedly paid their mortgage and insurance payments from the man’s accounts and made assorted purchases, they also used the funds to purchase items from an auction house and to pay for a visit to a veterinarian, according to Dow.