Man got bogus credit cards in mother-in-law's name

June 18, 1997


Staff Writer

A Funkstown man who admitted stealing nearly $46,000 by using his mother-in-law's name on bogus credit cards and forged checks told a tangled tale Wednesday of where the money went.

John Ellsworth Brantner Jr., 50, cried softly as he told Judge John H. McDowell that he spent much of the money paying medical expenses for his late wife, who was battling cancer.

"But then he was getting all this money and not getting caught and it snowballed on him,'' said defense attorney Gordon Lynn.


Brantner began buying expensive gifts and giving them to friends and family, Lynn said.

McDowell ordered Brantner to serve 18 months in the Washington County Detention Center and to pay restitution of $1,000 a month as soon he is released from jail on five years probation.

Brantner was sentenced on two counts of felony theft and one count of theft by scheme.

More than 100 charges were originally filed after an investigation that began when the victim, Helen Rizk, told police she had been getting phone calls from credit card companies seeking payment for cards she didn't have, police reports said.

Six credit cards had been obtained in the woman's name and sent to Brantner's former address in Boonsboro, police reports said.

A number of photographs taken at ATM machines around Washington County also showed Brantner making transactions with the credit cards, police reports said.

According to police reports, the incidents began in late June 1995, shortly after the death of Brantner's wife, the daughter of the victim. They continued through March 1996.

The Herald-Mail Articles