Georgia Woman Accused of Defrauding St. Charles County Widower
Feb 5, 2024
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Missouri
ST. LOUIS – A woman accused of defrauding a 74-year-old widower in a St. Charles County, Missouri nursing home has turned herself in to authorities in Georgia.
Shanita Gray, 51, was indicted by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in St. Louis on Dec. 6, 2023, with ten counts of wire fraud, one count of use of a counterfeit access device and four counts of aggravated identity theft. The indictment was unsealed Friday.
The indictment accuses Gray of using the personal information of the widower and a fraudulently obtained financial power of attorney to access the credit and debit cards and financial accounts of the alleged victim, identified in court documents as “D.H.”
Gray notified the administrators of D.H.’s nursing home that she was seeking emergency guardianship of him, the indictment says, and concealed the existence of D.H.’s half-sister. She told D.H.’s son that she would manage his financial affairs.
Gray searched D.H.’s Berkley, Missouri home to locate personal identifying information, identify his financial accounts, take possession of his debit and credit cards and obtain samples of his handwriting, the indictment says. When D.H. refused to sign a power of attorney authorizing her to manage his financial affairs, Gray added his name to a form in which she sought a court appointment to be guardian and conservator that had already been notarized, it says. She obtained online access to his financial accounts, added herself as a beneficiary, changed his contact information on financial accounts to her Georgia address and emailed the bogus power of attorney document to financial institutions, the indictment alleges.
The indictment says Gray obtained more than $300,000 by selling shares in D.H.’s investment accounts, transferring funds out of his bank accounts, drawing checks for her benefit and the benefit of others, conducting electronic funds transfers to pay her bills and redirecting D.H.’s pension and retirement checks to her personal and business bank accounts.
The wire fraud charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The counterfeit access device charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and the aggravated identity theft carries a penalty of two years in prison, consecutive to all other charges. Each charge also carries the possibility of a fine of up to $250,000. If convicted, restitution would be mandatory.
Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and the Maryland Heights Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry is prosecuting the case.
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