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Fulton County couple face theft charges

March 31, 2011

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Criminal charges have been filed against a Fulton County, Pa., couple accused of financially victimizing family members for their own personal gain, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

Acting Attorney General Bill Ryan identified the defendants as William Craig Carnell, 48, and Melissa “Missi” Ann Carnell, 50, both of 5809 Pleasant Grove Road, Warfordsburg.

Ryan said in a news release that between 2005 and 2008 the Carnells, who are husband and wife, served as caregivers for William’s elderly mother, Margaret “Peggy” Carnell, along with William’s brother, John, who is deaf, speech impaired and requires the use of a wheelchair.

The news release cited the criminal complaint in saying William Carnell and Melissa Carnell engaged in a conspiracy to misdirect and misuse funds that were intended to care for Peggy and John Carnell, including:


  • The use of Peggy Carnell’s home and surrounding land to secure a mortgage, which generated $110,000 in proceeds allegedly used by William and Melissa for personal expenses
  • Opening credit card accounts in Peggy Carnell’s name, unknown to her, which were used to generate approximately $55,000 in charges
  • Unauthorized withdrawals from Peggy Carnell’s savings account totaling $28,456
  • The use of $14,940 in proceeds from a certificate of deposit owned by Peggy Carnell
  • The diversion of $19,952 in Social Security disability checks intended for John Carnell


The news release states the alleged thefts were discovered after Peggy Carnell suffered a stroke in 2008. Family members who had attempted to check on her health were allegedly turned away by William Carnell, though an ambulance was eventually called and Peggy was hospitalized, according to the release.

Following that incident, other family members began examining financial records and contacted authorities after discovering what they believed were inappropriate transactions. The criminal case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by Fulton County District Attorney Travis L. Kendall.

William Craig Carnell is charged with two counts of theft by unlawful taking and one count of criminal conspiracy, all third-degree felonies each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines, the news release states.

Melissa Ann Carnell is charged with two counts of theft by unlawful taking, one count of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and one count of criminal conspiracy, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines, the news release states.

Both defendants were arraigned Tuesday before McConnellsburg Magisterial District Judge Wendy Richards Mellott and released. The defendants have both waived their preliminary hearings.

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