APPLETON, Maine — The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the possible theft of $72,000 in retirement money from an elderly town resident by a man who had been doing odd jobs for the victim.
No one has been charged in the case, but the court issued a search warrant last month at the request of Detective Donald Murray of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to examine the bank records of a couple who had been working for the elderly man during the winter.
Sheriff Donna Dennison said Friday that the case remains under investigation.
According to an affidavit filed by the detective in Knox County Unified Court, a neighbor of the victim contacted the sheriff’s office on April 14. The neighbor reported that when he returned to town from wintering in Florida he found the elderly man living in a filthy, cluttered, disorganized house.
The neighbor said after speaking with the victim and assisting him with his finances, he found that $72,324 had been withdrawn from the elderly man’s retirement account.
The man hired a couple to help him around the house. The woman assisted him with writing checks and other financial transactions while the man did handyman work around the house. The BDN is not naming the couple because they have not been charged with any crime.
The victim then agreed to put the handyman’s name on his retirement account with the understanding that it was being done because the elderly man had difficulty getting to the bank and that the handyman would get money for the victim when he needed it, according the affidavit. The elderly man also allowed the handyman to register his pickup truck with the understanding he could use it during the winter.
Detective Murray said the suspect has refused the man access to his money.
“Bank records indicate that (the suspect) is using these funds to live off of to his benefit. There is no indication that the money is used to pay any of (the victim’s) considerable medical or living expenses,” Murray stated in the court papers.
The victim told police he tried to contact the handyman when he was unable to access his money or get his truck back, but the man did not return his calls. He confronted the woman and told her he had a signed contract with the suspect. He said the woman asked to see the contract but he said he could not find it and suspected she had taken it, according to the affidavit.
The victim had been an independent business owner for years and the retirement money had been his life savings. The detective said the elderly man is in declining health.
The detective reported that the suspect in the theft opened a savings account at Camden National Bank in the amount equal to what was taken from the victim’s retirement account. The handyman had deposited a check from the victim’s retirement account, which was signed over to the handyman on the back. The handyman also opened a checking account and began transferring money from the savings to the checking account.
The checks were written to a variety of businesses including smoke shops, Rent-A-Center, Wal-Mart, Hampton Inn, Riverside Billiards and Townline Video, according to the affidavit. Those checks totaled more than $20,000, according to the affidavit.