5 Accused of Defrauding Mentally Disabled 73-Year-Old Cancer Patient Out of $24K
Prosecutors filed charges Friday against the last of five defendants accused of taking advantage of a 73-year-old cancer patient with mental illness and alcoholism by getting him drunk and persuading him to withdraw more than $24,000 from his bank account over the past four months, officials said.
Carolyn Shields, 61, of Pasadena; Billy Burton, 63, of Los Angeles; Griselda “Gracie” Patterson, 38, of Los Angeles: Patterson’s daughter Adriana Patterson, 22, of Los Angeles; and Adriana Patterson’s boyfriend, Antwan Havard, 25, whose hometown was unclear; face charges including elder financial abuse, grand theft, attempted elder financial abuse and attempted grand theft, the Pasadena Police Department said in a written statement.
In addition to defrauding the victim out of more than $24,000, the crew tried, unsuccessfully, to take another $54,000, officials said.
The victim had been friends with the suspects for well over a decade, Pasadena police Lt. Max Dahlstein said. The victim recently obtained a significant amount of money through a legal settlement and told the suspects about it.
“The crew would consume alcohol with the victim until he was intoxicated before walking him into his banks and convincing tellers to remove large amounts of cash or cashier’s checks on his behalf, and using the victim’s credit card to make online purchases and rent motel rooms,” according to the police statement.
Police learned of the scheme through the victims Union Station Homeless Services case worker, officials said. A detective notified the victim’s bank at the time, the Pasadena Federal Credit Union, to contact police if the suspects return.
Burton, Griselda Patterson, Adriana Patterson and Havard showed up at the bank with the victim on June 26 “in order to defraud him of more money,” police said.
The bank called police, who sent officers to arrest the four suspects.
Shields was arrested Wednesday while carrying out a search warrant, police said. She was accused of being involved in the fraudulent online purchases and admitted her role in the scheme, officials added.
Burton, Griselda Patterson and Shields remained in custody Friday pending legal proceedings, officials said. Bail was set at $70,000, $50,000 and $50,000, respectively. Adriana Patterson and Havard were released on bonds pending their initial court appearances.
“The Pasadena Police Department takes seriously any and all allegations of elder financial abuse,” the police statement said. “These kinds of crimes target our community’s most trusting and vulnerable senior population.”
Anyone with information was urged to contact Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.