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Press Release

EDVA Combats Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) has recently participated in several community outreach and education events on elder abuse and financial exploitation.

“The financial and emotional harm these scams cause elderly victims and their family members can be utterly devastating,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors remains a key priority for EDVA. We will not tolerate this criminal activity and will continue to prosecute these cases federally.”

Here in EDVA, Elder Justice efforts are being led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kaitlin G. Cooke who today participated as an invited panelist at an Elder Abuse Workshop hosted by the Peninsula Agency on Aging in Williamsburg.

On June 12, Terwilliger was joined by Cooke and an Elder Justice representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria for a presentation to over 100 senior citizens on elder abuse.

In addition to educating the community on elder abuse, EDVA actively seeks to identify and prosecute elder abuse crimes. This year, our office joined the Peninsula Elder Abuse Forensic Center, an enhanced multidisciplinary task force focused on combatting elder abuse and neglect across several counties. Cooke joins law enforcement officers, commonwealth attorneys, certified public accounts, emergency responders, medical providers, adult protective services, and local agencies on aging twice a month to review cases of elder abuse and neglect.

As noted by Attorney General William P. Barr last week, fraud against the elderly is on the rise.

“One of the most significant and pernicious causes for this increase is foreign-based fraud schemes,” said Attorney General Barr.

To address the issue, the Department has created the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force.

“The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force will bring together the expertise and resources of our prosecutors, federal and international law enforcement partners, and other government agencies to better target, investigate, and prosecute criminals abroad who prey on our elderly at home. The Department of Justice is committed to ending the victimization of elders across the country.”

Below are summaries of several noteworthy elder abuse cases recently prosecuted in EDVA. For more information on a particular case, please click the link for the full press release on our website.

  • United States v. Edward Lee Moody, Jr. - Moody owned and operated an investment firm in Virginia Beach, CM Capital Management LLC, through which he solicited investors. In reality, Moody was running a Ponzi scheme. Over a 13-year period, he solicited and collected approximately $6.1 million from 53 investors, at least 13 of whom were elderly persons who liquidated assets from their existing, legitimate retirement accounts in order to provide funds to Moody that they expected him to invest on their behalf. Moody diverted investor moneys for his own benefit, buying property, traveling, and investing on his own behalf. Moody also used investor money to lull earlier investors and provided investors with fraudulent monthly account statements falsely indicating investments and earned returns. Moody was sentenced on February 5 to 13 years in prison and was ordered to pay over $4.8 million in restitution.
  • United States v. Sandra Payne - Payne pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft based on her theft of over $22,000 from an elderly victim. Payne was employed by the victim to provide home health care to the victim’s spouse. Over a five-month period, Payne used the victim’s credit and debit cards to make unauthorized purchases of personal goods at various retailers. Payne was sentenced on June 18 two years in prison for her crime.
  • United States v. John Michael Gatchell – Gatchell pleaded guilty on April 18 to exploiting an elderly man’s diminished mental capacity to defraud him of nearly $157,000. Gatchell facilitated a marriage between the elderly man and a woman with whom Gatchell had a long-term relationship in order to gain access to the elderly man’s money and property. Gatchell induced the elderly man to make a down payment on a Jaguar that Gatchell and a family member drove for about 10 months before it was repossessed by the lender when the loan went into default. Gatchell also induced the elderly man to obtain two mortgage loans and then diverted most of the proceeds to the benefit of himself and others. He subsequently induced the elderly man to sell the property that secured the loans and again diverted most of the proceeds to himself and others. Gatchell used these fraudulently diverted monies to purchase concert series tickets, pay delinquent bills, and make a security deposit and advance rent payments for a house he leased, among other things. Gatchell faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on September 6.
  • United States v. Nena Kerny Kochuga - Kochuga executed a Jamaican lottery scheme that targeted elderly victims, who she and conspirators would contact by phone. Kochuga told victims that they had won the lottery and were required to pay purported taxes and fees to claim the winnings. She directed victims to mail and wire money to her residential and post office box addresses in Virginia. Kochuga then sent money to conspirators in Jamaica and Ghana via Western Union wire transfers, keeping a portion for herself. Through this conduct, Kochuga and her conspirators defrauded numerous victims of at least $50,000. According to local media coverage, Kochuga has targeted elderly victims with similar lottery scams for most of the past decade. She has prior convictions in Virginia Beach Circuit Court and Colorado in connection with these schemes, and faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced on September 30.

For information and resources on elder abuse or to report abuse, please visit DOJ’s Elder Justice Initiative website at:

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Communications

Updated June 20, 2019

Elder Justice