LANSING – For one-and-a-half years, Ricky Bradford Willson had Durable Power of Attorney for his 90-year-old great-aunt. He was supposed to look out for her best interests as she aged.
Instead, Willson transferred $120,000 in cash from his aunt’s bank account into his, signed a quit claim deed transferring her house in Gladwin to himself, and transferred the title of her classic 1967 Ford Mustang convertible to himself.
The result? Four felony charges, including:
Count 1: Embezzlement of $100,000 or more (for the $120,000 cash transfer); 20 years and/or a fine up to $50,000 or three times the amount embezzled (whichever is greater).
Count 2: Embezzlement of $100,000 or more (for the property transfer); 20 years and/or a fine up to $50,000 or three times the amount embezzled (whichever is greater).
Count 3: Intent to Pass False Title (vehicle transfer); 10 years and/or $5,000.
Count 4: Embezzlement – Agent or Trustee – $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 (converting vehicle ownership); Five years and/or $10,000 or three times the amount embezzled (whichever is greater).
The irony is that Willson was bound over for trial by Judge Christopher Odette of the 67th District Court in Genesee County on Tuesday, March 26 – the day after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined forces with the Michigan Supreme Court, members of the legislative and executive branches of government and advocacy groups like AARP to announce Michigan’s Elder Abuse Task Force.
“This is a classic example of financial elder abuse: a trusted relative who took advantage of his aunt,” said Attorney General Nessel. “He literally took everything from her: her car, her house and her savings account. However, his actions were discovered because she knew things were amiss. The locks had been changed on her house in Gladwin, her classic Mustang convertible was missing, and her savings account was gone. She spoke up.
“But not every elderly person has the capacity to speak up when things are awry,” continued Nessel. “That’s why we established the Elder Abuse Task Force – to increase awareness of elder abuse and to find and implement best practices across the state so that the oldest among us are protected.”
Willson is out on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.
The case was assigned to the Honorable Richard B. Yuille of Genesee County Circuit Court.
Michigan residents can anonymously report any signs or concerns about elder abuse to the Michigan Department of Attorney General by calling 800-24-ABUSE 800-242-2873 or online at mi.gov/elderabuse.