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Ottawa County elderly abuse case file sent to attorney

Emil Whitis • Mar 3, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Mulligan refused to talk about his strategy on the record, but Wisehart confirmed he received a letter and a thick case file from the prosecutor.


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“I’m going to review it over the weekend,” Wisehart said. “He wants to hear our side of the story.”

The controversy stems from a $200,000 debt accrued by a 62-year-old Marblehead jewelry shop owner over a period of two years. The funds came either directly from Shaeffer’s bank account or from credit cards in Shaeffer’s name.

The shop owner used Shaeffer’s cash and credit to buy jewelry, run her store and furnish her daughter’s apartment and to make “numerous day-to-day purchases including meals, utility payments, gasoline and clothing,” according to Danbury Township police Detective Mark Meisler’s investigative report.

Shaeffer’s family called it theft from the elderly. That’s what Meisler called it, too.

Wisehart maintains it was a business loan.

Shaeffer had known the shop owner for years, but it wasn’t until Shaeffer’s husband died that the owner put her hand out.

Court records show at about that time, the shop owner was being sued in civil court by four banks and two businesses. After a few initial five-figure checks, Shaeffer let the shop owner open at least one credit card in her name, according to the police report.

In December, after not receiving even a single payment on the principal, Shaeffer entered the jewelry store and took back the jewelry her money had bought. She was acting on advice from her attorney.

“(My client) had every intent to repay the loan,” Wisehart said. “What was criminal was (Shaeffer) coming into my client’s store and taking all her inventor y. I’d like Mr. Mulligan to look into that.”

With no inventory, the store soon tanked.

Shaeffer’s relatives spent more than 700 hours on forensic accounting. In the end, they plopped an inchthick report on Mulligan’s desk.

Now, Mulligan wants to hear the shop owner’s side.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, meanwhile, is actively campaigning for prosecution of financial crimes against the elderly. He helped write the bill that recently passed into l aw , called the Elder Justice Act.

“In the past, theft from the elderly cases were always handled civilly,” DeWine said in an interview Tuesday. “(The Elder Justice Act) seeks to recognize that the elderly can be abused not only physically but financially as well.”

He said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has a wealth of resources, i n c l u d i ng f o re n s i c accountants, to support local prosecutors in theft from the elderly cases.

“If they ask us, we will try to help them in any way we can,” DeWine said.

Wisehart said he plans to respond to Mulligan’s letter by Friday.

Three other Marblehead residents have lodged theft complaints against the owner, according to a Danbury Township police report.

A sign now hangs in the abandoned jewelry store: “Life sometimes takes unexpected twists and turns,” it reads. “Bad things happen to good people.”

 It’s signed by the shop owner.

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