Tuesday, September 4, 2012

PA Elder Abuse Scammer On Trial

PhillyBurbs.com originally published an article on 8/24/2012.  The article, written by Margaret Gibbons, highlighted the trial of an accused senior scammer in the Philadelphia area.  The original article may be found by clicking on this link.

An Upper Southampton man will have to stand trial on charges that he and three others allegedly bilked $700,000-plus from more than 250 seniors in scams involving home care services, home security services and insurance counseling services. District Judge Paul N. Leo on Thursday ruled that state prosecutors had produced sufficient evidence during a three-day preliminary hearing to take Ross Rabelow, 53, of the 500 block of Jason Drive, Upper Southampton, to trial on the more than 1,000 charges stemming from the various scams. Rabelow, who is free on $1 million bail, is charged with multiple counts each of participating in a corrupt organization, theft, unfair business practices, insurance fraud, conspiracy and dealing in proceeds from unlawful activities.
The other three defendants — Bruce H. Cherry, 52, of Philadelphia; Thomas J. Muldoon, 58, of Delaware County; and Robert P. Lerner, 56, of Philadelphia — all waived their right to a preliminary hearing.
Cherry, who testified against Rabelow, and Muldoon are in the county prison in lieu of $1 million bail and face charges similar to those against Rabelow. Lerner, who is charged with all but the corrupt organization charge, is also behind bars, unable to post $250,000 in bail, while he waits for his trial.
The final witness to testify at the preliminary hearing was a visibly distraught Berks County woman who claimed that her mom might still be alive today if she had received the home care services to which she was entitled under a contract she had with a company headed by Rabelow
“That help may have prevented the cycle of devastation that led to her death,” testified Jaime Mott, whose mother died on Feb. 2, 2011.
Mott’s 82-year-old mother entered a hospital on Sept. 2, 2010, following a fall at her condo where she lived alone. She never returned home. Instead, she went to a rehabilitation facility following her release from the hospital and then entered a nursing home where she died.
Mott’s mother, who had been “slipping mentally” for over a year, had signed a contract in March 2010 with American Comfort Home Care Services for up to 600 hours of home care services at a cost of $583. American Comfort Home Care was headed by Rabelow and Cherry was its primary salesman.
While “ticked off” that Cherry had come to her mother’s condo and sold her the policy after she had previously warned him not to, Mott said she decided that the contract “might not be a bad thing” at that time since it purported to provide personal services such as assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing, shopping and other activities upon request.
Her mother was going into the hospital for elective surgery in April 2010 and the contract could come in play if her mother needed help after her release, Mott said.
While her mother came through the surgery it “compromised her mentally,” according to Mott.
Mott and her brother attempted to care for their mother for about 2 months “but we realized we were over our heads” since both also held full-time jobs and other obligations, Mott testified.
That was when they decided to implement the American Comfort contract.
However, Mott said, Cherry blew off three meetings they had made to discus the services that her mother would need. Following the third missed interview, Mott testified she called American Comfort, telling an office worker “someone better get back to me or heads will roll.”
Rabelow contacted her and again a meeting was set up to discuss her mother’s needs. Rabelow did not appear for the meeting but did come at another time.
It was at that time that Mott told him her mother would need between 20 to 25 hours of service a week and gave him a schedule of when a caregiver was to come to the home and what services would have to be provided.
Rabelow balked at the hours, stating they should start out slowly and see if the hours needed to be increased. He told her he had someone in mind for the job, according to Mott’s testimony.
Rabelow advertised on Craigslist for a caregiver and, after meeting an applicant in a doughnut shop, hired her. He told the applicant, who had a full-time job as an accounting assistant, that she would be working three hours, two evenings a week.
Shortly after the caregiver began working in July, it became apparent to both Mott and the caregiver that Mott’s mother needed far more assistance than two evenings a week, Mott testified. However, despite Mott’s multiple requests to Rabelow and to the caregiver, those hours were never expanded.
Her mother’s mental health continued to decline and she also began losing her balance, Mott said.
“She began spiraling downwards and then came the fall that sent her to the hospital,” said Mott. “I really believe that, if we had received the help we requested, the help to which we were entitled and when we requested it, Mom might still be here.”
Senior Deputy Attorney General M. Eric Schoenberg, who is prosecuting the case, said that only a few American Comfort clients ever received services for which they had paid. The services that they received, “always on a scale much smaller than requested,” came about only because of persistent family members, he said.
Rabelow had developed a strategy of “delay, lies, excuses, evasions and outright refusals” when it came to providing services.
Only 3 percent of the funds coming into the company’s business account ever went for services. The remainder of the funds used for commissions as well as for Rabelow’s personal expenses including a home mortgage, cars and student loans, according to Schoenberg.
Defense attorney Frederick S. Schofield, who represents Rabelow, had attempted to get the bulk of the charges thrown out against his client, stating that, at best, the prosecution had only shown that some 38 clients had requested services and did not receive them or did not receive all of the hours they requested and for which they had paid.
However, Schoenberg responded, Rabelow’s intent on defrauding all of his clients was clear because he essentially was charging them about $1.59 an hour for the hours provided in the contract when the industry rate is about $10 to $15 or even higher for caregivers, said Schoenberg.
“There was no staff to provide services and no reserve to pay for services,” said Schoenberg. “Money was going out as fast as it was coming in.”

No comments:

Post a Comment