Investigation unravels scheme to defraud Omaha inmate with Alzheimer’s
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The first two of eight suspects appeared in Douglas County Court this week to face accusations of convincing an elderly inmate to write thousands of dollars in checks.
The intricate case began to unravel in January after staff at Community Corrections Center-Omaha heard from some inmates who were concerned about how other inmates were taking advantage of a fellow inmate experiencing declining mental health.
6 News will not identify the victim. Court documents indicate he is 71 years old.
Soon after the Nebraska State Patrol began investigating the situation, the man was evaluated which revealed that he had a significant case of Alzheimer’s Disease. Along with confusion, disorientation, and problems with memory loss, he had potential paranoid and delusional thoughts. He was transferred to the Reception and Treatment Center in Lincoln in February due to his declined mental state, inability to care for himself, and the exploitation he was experiencing.
This is what investigators learned.
Between December 6, 2021 and January 18, 2022, the victim contacted the Omaha Firefighters Credit Union and requested checks of various amounts to be issued to several people. Ultimately, the inmates successfully managed to convince him to issue checks amounting to $12,306.24. They were unsuccessful in having the man issue about $5,000 in other checks because the transactions raised a red flag at the credit union.
The NSP investigation looked into a series of events in which seven male inmates and three women on the outside allegedly conspired to convince the victim into writing the checks. Two of the three women are mothers of two inmates. The third woman is described as a girlfriend of another inmate.
Out of the entire group of ten, two have not had any legal action taken against them. One is an inmate, the other is a mother.
In Douglas County Court on Wednesday, Delaney Burggraff, 22, was formally charged with conspiracy, abuse of a vulnerable adult, and theft by deception. Her preliminary hearing was set for January 13, 2023. Her bond was set at $5,000.
On Thursday, Sherry Will, 55, was formally charged with the same charges as Burggraff. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 17, 2023 at 9 a.m. Her bond was set at $25,000.
Five inmates have an arrest warrant pending for their alleged role. They are expected to face the same felony charges: conspiracy, abuse of a vulnerable adult, and theft by deception. They are Johnny Looney, 37; Kristian Will, who turns 26 this month; Avery Osborn, 25; Shawn Stewart, 39; and Tony Smith, 39.
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