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Couple charged in exploitation case

January 05, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN - A Hagerstown couple has been charged with obtaining property of a vulnerable adult after Boonsboro-area residents told authorities earlier this year about a man who was suffering from dementia, living in unsanitary conditions and keeping warm with a cook range after his heat was turned off, according to court records.

Daniel Lee Meldron, 39, and Angie Rebecca Meldron, 23, both of 334 McDowell Ave., who had powers of attorney for the victim, were charged Dec. 15 after the $325,000 sale of 26 antique cars belonging to the Boonsboro-area man who was suffering from dementia, according to Washington County District Court records.

The man also was deprived of the sale proceeds of a Wachovia Securities account totaling $221,274, deprived of the sale proceeds of a JP Morgan/Chase bank account worth $85,629, deprived of the sale proceeds of an antique Cadillac for $7,500 and deprived of the value of a 1936 Ford valued at least $5,000, court documents allege.

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The man has since been placed in assisted living through the Department of Social Services and is destitute, according to an application for charges filed Dec. 12 by Sgt. Roy Harsh of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Daniel Meldron has been charged with five counts of obtaining property of a vulnerable adult $500 plus and theft scheme $500 plus, and Angela Meldron has been charged with obtaining property of a vulnerable adult over $500 and vulnerable adult abuse/custodian, according to court records and Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion.

Conviction on a charge of obtaining property of a vulnerable adult $500 plus and theft scheme $500 plus carry a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison, and conviction on a vulnerable adult abuse charge carries a possible punishment of up to five years in jail, court records show.

Angie Meldron was not being held on bond and Daniel Meldron was free on $25,000 bond, according to court records.

Attempts to find a phone number to reach the Meldrons were unsuccessful.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department's Criminal Investigation Unit initially was contacted about the case on March 13, 2008, and on May 8, Investigator Tara Little met with one of the man's neighbors, who said he received a significant inheritance, Harsh wrote in court documents.

The neighbor said the man was "tight with his money" and would not have allowed his cars to be sold, according to court records.

Little also met with a friend of the man who said his hygiene was deteriorating, court records say. The friend said, among other things, that heat to the man's home was turned off in February and his water was due to be turned off, Harsh wrote. The friend said she had been taking food to the man daily because there was none in the house, court records show.

On April 22, two Adult Protective Service workers from the Department of Social Services, a friend of the man's and Little met with the man at his house, Harsh wrote.

The man stayed in the house for a few more months, Little said.

A friend of the man's said the Meldrons lived with him for a couple of years and that the man set up a trust for the Meldrons' child because he had no one to whom to leave his money, court records say.

But the man became upset with Daniel Meldron, court records contend.

When Little, Adult Protective Services workers and a friend of the man went to his house on April 22, the man took them to a garage behind his home where he kept the cars, Harsh said.

"When (the man) discovered that his garage was empty except for one car, he became very upset," Harsh wrote in court papers.

On June 23, a search warrant was executed by Harsh and four other police officers at Meldron's home at 334 McDowell Ave., Harsh wrote. Daniel Meldron was in the house and was questioned about the man's car collection, police said.

Meldron told investigators his only involvement in the sale of the cars was bringing the man together with a buyer. Meldron said the buyer purchased the cars for $325,000 and that the cars were taken to Virginia, Harsh wrote.

When questioned further about the $325,000, Meldron said the money was placed in a bank account of the man's, then transferred to an account of A.R. Meldron Trucking Co., Harsh said.

When asked to explain that transaction, Meldron said the man gave him the money to buy some dump trucks, Harsh wrote in court documents.

A joint account was opened Dec. 19, 2006, at M&T Bank to benefit the man and Meldron, Harsh said. The account was opened with $105,746 from the Wachovia Securities account and $85,629 from the JP Morgan/Chase account, Harsh said.

The M&T Bank account balance was $324,001 at one time but was closed June 19, 2007, Harsh said. Harsh said $279,300 in checks was made payable to Daniel Meldron.

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