DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A Sebec couple charged with forgery and theft for allegedly bilking an 82-year-old blind man out of nearly $20,000 made their initial court appearance Monday in 13th District Court.
Elizabeth “Bess” Cutler, 59, and her husband, Herbert Swartz, 76, both said they now were living on Swartz’s monthly Social Security check. Since he considered them indigent, Judge Kevin Stitham granted them court-appointed attorneys. Attorney Randy Day of Garland will represent Cutler. Attorney Chris Smith of Dover-Foxcroft was appointed to represent Swartz.
Another blind man accompanied the pair to court Monday. Cutler and Swartz were joined by their friend Bill Irwin of Sebec, who is known for trekking the entire 2,175-mile length of the Appalachian Trail (mileage according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy). Irwin was joined by his guide dog and an acquaintance.
Police said that Swartz and Cutler allegedly befriended the 82-year-old blind man, who summers in Sebec and winters in Stony Point, N.Y., and took him on errands to the bank and grocery store over the summer. In the fall, the man’s son noticed that his father was spending a lot of money from his bank accounts, some of which had been overdrawn. The theft then was discovered, according to Investigator Guy Dow of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department. Swartz and Cutler allegedly had been spending money from the man’s bank and credit card accounts from July 3 through early December.
Swartz and Cutler allegedly used the stolen money to pay their mortgage, purchase oil and to buy items on eBay, Dow said.
Both have maintained that the blind man had allowed them the use of his accounts.
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, Dow said.