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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947

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    Release No. 08-116

    August 20, 2008


    RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A federal grand jury today indicted a Riverside man on federal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding a 91 year-old woman out of her life savings.

    John Glenn Merrill, 39, was named in an eight-count indictment that accuses him of four counts of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud.

    The indictment alleges that Merrill moved into the victim’s residence in March 2008. Merrill lived there rent-free in exchange for assisting the victim with errands and other aspects of her daily life made difficult due to her poor eyesight and age. The victim is a 91-year-old woman with poor eyesight verging on blindness due to macular degeneration. Merrill allegedly used his position of trust to add himself, unbeknownst to the victim, as a joint-account holder on the victim’s investment account where the victim held approximately $500,000, which represented her remaining life savings.  Once added as a joint account-holder, through the use of the mails and several wire transfers through a number of bank accounts, Merrill absconded with approximately $498,000 of the victim’s savings and fled out of state.

    The United States Secret Service, working closely with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, began investigating Merrill in July 2008 after the victim reported that Merrill had stolen her savings. Working quickly to try to preserve as much of the victim’s savings as possible, the Secret Service obtained an arrest warrant on July 23 and froze Merrill’s bank accounts where the fraud proceeds were being kept. Authorities arrested Merrill in Oregon on July 23. Following his arrest, Merrill signed a release of all of the money in his accounts and the Secret Service was able to recover approximately $487,500 of the victim’s savings, money that is expected to be returned to the victim shortly.

    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

    If convicted, Merrill faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years on each of the eight counts in the indictment.

    Merrill is scheduled to appear for arraignment in United States District Court in Riverside on August 27.


    Release No. 08-116
    Return to the 2008 Press Release Index