Sunday, January 9, 2011

Watch Out For "Brother Paul"

Police: Man scammed elderly woman
By ANDREW GANT, Staff writer
December 10, 2010 12:05 AM

A Crescent City man scammed a DeLand woman out of more than $250,000 after knocking at her door with a Bible in hand, according to an arrest report released Thursday.

Francis L. Paul III, 46, was charged Wednesday with exploitation of an elderly person after a more than four-month investigation by DeLand police.

Paul fooled the 84-year-old woman into signing away her savings and stock holdings -- totaling about $255,000, according to the report.

Detective David Hiers wrote that the woman -- who is not being named because she is vulnerable -- was willing to sign several blank pieces of paper he handed her without explanation.

"It became apparent that (she) could be talked into signing anything," Hiers wrote.

A son visiting from California discovered the thefts in July and reported them to police, the report states.

The Department of Children & Families declared the woman mentally incompetent and police said she "suffers from the infirmities of aging."

Police said Paul -- who also goes by the name Francis P. Lipani III -- "showed up at (the woman's) door one day with a Bible in his hand" and befriended her. In an interview with police, the woman said she "liked him and was comfortable around him" and signed some papers he provided so they could "go into the lawn business together."

Subpoenaed documents from several banks -- Paul used at least seven, investigators said -- showed the beneficiary on many of Paul's accounts was theWatchtower Bible and Tract Society, an organization of Jehovah's Witnesses.

His arrest report listed his occupation as a salesman.

Paul posted $15,000 bail Wednesday at the Volusia County Branch Jail, an official said. The phone number on his arrest report was disconnected.

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