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Freeburg, IL Couple Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Elderly Family Member: What You Should Know

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“The scales of justice” by James Cridland is licensed under CC BY 2.0 CC BY 2.0

East St. Louis, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Ronald Speiser, 81, and Jean Speiser, 81, of Freeburg, Illinois, pled guilty today in federal court to two felony charges after defrauding an elderly family member out of nearly $200,000.

The Speisers were designated as the victim’s power of attorney and successor power of attorney in estate documents. In June 2018, they exercised their authority over the victim’s finances by opening a joint account for Ronald Speiser and the victim at Citizens Community Bank in Mascoutah, Illinois, and depositing a check for over $250,000 after selling the victim’s home. Starting around December 2018, and continuing until at least June 2020, the Speisers abused their access to these funds by spending over $200,000 of the victim’s money without the victim’s knowledge or permission, and for purposes that did not benefit the victim. Their spending spree included over $50,000 in personal home renovations, paying over a year’s worth of personal credit card bills, purchasing a $29,000 camper and $23,000 truck, and making a down payment and thirteen mortgage payments on a second home.

As part of the plea agreement, the Speisers agreed to a sentence including twelve months of home confinement and full restitution to the victim, including $119,000 that must be paid before their sentencing hearing. The Speisers’ sentencing is set for November 18, 2021, at 1:30 pm in the federal courthouse in East St. Louis.

This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative. Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice.

What You Should Know: Defrauding the Elderly, Financial Fraud, Protection

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 7 days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish and other languages are available.

The case was investigated by Adult Protective Services, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Luke J. Weissler.