Friday, March 12, 2010

Brother, Sister-In-Law Forced Ailing, Now-Deceased Senior Into Granting POA, Then Looted Frail Woman's Assets, Including Home Sale Proceeds

In North Florida, The Baker County Press reports:

  • A Macclenny woman believed to be the mastermind of a scheme to bilk her elderly and infirm sister-in-law out of $340,000 in cash and other assets will spend a month in county jail and be on probation for 10 years. Francis Claudette Gray, 48, who now lives in Lake City along with co-defendant and husband Jimmy, 77, will also be required to repay $227,212 back to the estate of Margarete Gray, who died last fall of cancer in a Jacksonville nursing home.(1)


  • The Grays were not charged criminally until September, 2008, when assistant state attorney Geoff Fleck filed counts of felony grand theft and exploitation of the elderly. Sheriff’s investigators had completed an investigation two years earlier, and former prosecutor Mel Bessinger was hesitant to file because he feared there was little proof the couple coerced the elder Mrs. Gray to sign over power of attorney.

  • Prosecutor Fleck contended that’s exactly what they did in a blatant grab for the ailing relative’s assets. The chain of events that immediately followed in the summer of 2006 including systematic looting of Mrs. Gray’s bank accounts, cashing in of certificates of deposit, sale of her north Jacksonville house and the theft of $37,000 cash from inside the house. The thefts coincided with purchases of vehicles, a boat and two homes in west Macclenny. The defendants have since declared bankruptcy and their home was foreclosed.

For more, see $340K theft nets defendent only 30 days in jail.

(1) According to the story, the late Mrs. Gray, of German descent and a survivor of both the Nazi and Russian occupations during and after World War II, fell into ill health following the death of her husband Fred. By the time Francis & Jimmy Gray moved her to Macclenny Nursing and Rehab in the summer of 2006, she was malnourished and near comatose. Nursing home employees became alarmed at the behavior of the defendants and their son Jimmy Jr. in forcing the patient to sign over power of attorney, which they told her was necessary to salvage the value of her home in Jacksonville. At the time, it was subject to condemnation.

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