Man freed after 1 1/2 years in jail

June 16, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- A Shepherdstown, W.Va., man who spent the last year-and-a-half in jail, including some of that time because he chose to stay in, was released on a personal recognizance bond Monday one day before his scheduled trial on a charge of stealing an elderly woman's money.

Philip Patrick Meadors, age unavailable, had a new trial date of Aug. 25 set by Judge David H. Sanders in Jefferson County Circuit Court on Monday.

Meadors was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury in January on a single count of embezzlement by misuse of power of attorney, a felony.

The 89-year-old alleged victim, now in a nursing home in Charles Town, had lived in Shepherdstown since about 1988, her brother, Jack Nicewander of Bentonville, Ark., said Tuesday.


Meadors befriended the woman and did handyman work for her. He told authorities he was her caretaker and that he had power of attorney over her affairs, according to court records.

Chief Timothy Johnson of the Shepherdstown Police Department, the investigating officer, said the documentation dated Aug. 8, 2007, supporting Meadors' claim of power of attorney was not legal because of the woman's mental incapacity to make such a decision, according to court records.

Kenya Roberts, a protective service worker with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources in Martinsburg, was told in November 2007 by Dr. Robert Webb, the woman's physician, that her dementia and memory loss dated to early 2004, court records said.

Roberts told police that Meadors, through his power of attorney, was liquidating the elderly woman's assets and depositing large sums of money into a joint checking account that had been opened June 15, 2007, under Meadors' and the victim's names at a bank in Boonsboro, Md.  

According to court records, $121,680.59 and $64,422.83 were deposited into the account on Aug. 31, 2007.

The case against Meadors came to light when a bank employee notified HHR officials that large sums of money were being taken from the woman's bank account.

Meadors owned an older recreational vehicle and a Ford F-150 pickup. According to court records, he purchased a newer RV for $8,500 with the woman's money and registered it in his name, court records said. He told Chief Johnson that he was planning to take the woman on a "trip to Florida," court records said. 

Meadors also spent more than $22,000 on a late-model Honda Element from the Kent Parsons Ford dealership in Martinsburg, according to court records.

In January 2008, Shepherdstown Police charged Meadors with one count each of abuse and neglect of an incapacitated adult, misappropriation or misuse of assets of an elderly person and obtaining money under false pretense. He has been held in the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg since.

Police impounded Meadors' vehicles and tools, Nicholas F. Colvin, his attorney, said during a pre-trial hearing Monday before Judge Sanders. Meadors had said he didn't want to leave jail because he had no place to live while his RV was impounded, officials said.

Colvin filed a motion asking Sanders to dismiss the state's case against Meadors on grounds that the prosecution has not provided all of its evidence to the defense. The judge said he is considering Colvin's motion.

Sanders said he released Meadors because he already has served enough time to be eligible for parole had he been convicted of the charge against him.

Meadors has enjoyed a cadre of support from Shepherdstown-area residents who often show up for his court appearances. Nearly 20 were in court for Monday's hearing.

They cheered and applauded when Sanders ordered Meadors' release. Several offered to provide him with food and shelter until his vehicles are released from the impound lot.


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