Attorney Convicted of Defrauding Elderly Woman Sentenced to Almost 4 Years in Prison
Lawyer with ‘Power of Attorney’ Gambled Away Client’s Life Savings
PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that John Kelvin Conner, 63, of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to nearly four years (46 months) imprisonment, three years supervised release, ordered to forfeit $14,923 and pay an additional $14,923 in restitution by United States District Judge Gerald M. McHugh. Conner was convicted in February 2019 by a jury of 19 counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to federal agents. The defendant, an attorney and former federal agent, devised and participated in a scheme to defraud an elderly woman out of more than $95,000 so that he could gamble with her money at casinos.
In July 2016, the 85-years old victim signed a Power of Attorney (“POA”) agreement with the defendant that granted him authority to manage the victim’s finances and pay her bills. At the time, the victim lived at home, but required the assistance of multiple caregivers, and her only source of income was a monthly pension. The evidence presented at trial showed that Conner used the POA agreement to liquidate a life annuity policy that the victim owned, deposit the proceeds into one of her bank accounts, and siphon nearly all of that money for his personal use at casinos.
From August 16, 2016 until April 22, 2017, the defendant used an ATM card to make at least 176 unauthorized withdrawals at Pennsylvania and New Jersey casinos totaling at least $95,688 from the victim’s bank account. During this time, the defendant neglected to pay the victim’s bills, which led to her temporarily losing basic utilities like heat, hot water, electricity, and telephone services. Additionally, many checks paid to the home caregivers were returned because of insufficient balances in the victim’s checking account. Ultimately, Conner left the elderly victim with just $15.07 in her bank accounts before he was caught. When questioned by FBI agents about the ATM withdrawals, the defendant falsely told the agents a ridiculous story that the victim had authorized him to use her money to gamble at casinos.
“The defendant’s conduct in this case was egregious,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Stealing an elderly woman’s life-savings, gambling it away at casinos, and then lying about it to federal agents – all as an officer of the court, an attorney who took an oath to act in the best interest of his clients and with a high moral standard. This is the very definition of someone with power preying upon the most vulnerable. I am grateful that the Judge held him accountable for his despicable actions.”
“Ripping off an elderly and vulnerable woman, gambling away her money even as her utilities were being shut off — the callousness of John Conner's crimes is staggering,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “While we can't undo all of the stress and damage caused, the FBI takes great satisfaction in bringing crooks like Connor to justice and preventing them from doing any more harm. Elder fraud and abuse are utterly unacceptable. If you're being victimized or know of someone who is, please reach out to the FBI. As always, tipsters can remain anonymous.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark B. Dubnoff.