Monday, April 1, 2024

US official spends elderly woman's $100,000 savings on facelift, new home

Story by India Today World Desk

An official in the US state of Florida has been arrested for defrauding a 96-year-old woman of her savings worth more than USD100,000 and spending the money on personal expenses, including a facelift, hotel stays, rental cars, and expensive perfumes from high-end retailers. Authorities said the accused fraudulently used the woman's power of attorney to buy a home in the latter's name.

The accused, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, was arrested on Thursday. She faces a total of seven, including three counts of exploitation of the elderly, mortgage fraud, scheme to defraud; and two counts of fraud, the Florida-based local WESH (channel 2) TV station reported.

The 59-year-old who was first elected in 2013, has pleaded not guilty and posted USD40,000 bond following her arrest. She could face 180 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Hill, a Democrat, is also accused of racking up over USD10,000 in debt under the elderly woman's name.

According to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, the matter came to light earlier this month after a judge issued an injunction which barred Hill from accessing the elderly woman's bank accounts and homes, which the accused took control of.

She first met the woman in 2021.

According to authorities, Hill took advantage of the woman as she suffers from cognitive disabilities, age-related health issues, as well as her mental condition, which is already an issue in the civil case.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge John Vecchio told reporters that "Hill learnt of the woman living in poor conditions and the two were connected".

She "became aware of this resident through her position as a city commissioner, and because of that, was able to lend what appeared to be benefit services" but used her influence over the elderly woman to "fraudulently obtain a power of attorney", WESH 2 quoted Vecchio as saying.

According to law enforcement officers, the accused "repeatedly used the victim's finances to purchase rental cars, hotel stays, personal luxury items like expensive perfume from high-end retailers".

However, Hill, in a statement to the television station, called the matter "unfortunate" and said she "loved and cared" for the elderly woman "like my own family".

"After 10 years of service for the City of Orlando, I've illustrated my love and compassion for my constituents, my city and my family. I know the truth, I know I'm entitled to due process in which I trust, and I will await my day in court to prove my innocence," she added.

A hearing has been scheduled for April 5.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has hinted that he would suspend Hill if she was indicted.

"This is a target-rich environment, this state, for exploitation, because you have a lot of seniors, and you have a lot of seniors who are retired and have some income... If a municipal elected official is indicted by a grand jury, then I would suspend. That's typical," WESH 2 quoted the governor as saying.

Full Article & Source:
US official spends elderly woman's $100,000 savings on facelift, new home

See Also:
Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill accused of financial exploitation of 96-year-old woman

Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill arrested, faces charges of elderly exploitation, mortgage fraud

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