Crime

2 charged in Berkeley elder abuse embezzlement case

Alameda County district attorney's office seal, via Facebook.

Alameda County district attorney’s office seal, via Facebook.

A Vallejo couple has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with elder abuse after authorities say they took about $842,000 from their alleged victim, some of which was spent on everything from tuition at UC Berkeley to an Audi luxury coupe. Authorities said some of the money also was spent, legitimately, on the alleged victim’s own living expenses.

Vallejo residents Jeffrey Edward Alexander and Adriana Segurado Rodezno remain in custody at Santa Rita Jail after being arrested on a warrant in San Francisco on May 28.

According to court documents, Alexander met the alleged victim, a 69-year-old Santa Barbara man, in March 2009, after the man’s wife died. Alexander became friends with him and “slowly took over duties assisting him with personal matters. In late 2010 Alexander suggested they move together to Berkeley,” because Alexander’s wife, Rodezno, was going to attend UC Berkeley.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman officer Jennifer Coats said, at one point, all three shared a residence Berkeley, starting in 2010.

In September 2012, the men entered into a business partnership, named McGuffin Holdings after the victim’s cat, and the victim gave Alexander “an investment of $125,000 to use trading foreign currencies,” according to court documents. The man told authorities this was the only large sum of money he knowingly gave Alexander.

Police said Alexander moved a total of about $842,000 from the man’s retirement accounts into his checking account. According to a report written by Berkeley Police detective Alexander McDougall, “Some of this money was undoubtedly spent for Victim’s benefit, including rent on a home, and food and other necessities. However Alexander also spent large sums of money on himself or his wife,” wrote McDougall, including $86,000 for his wife’s UC Berkeley tuition; $17,000 on an Audi luxury coupe; $12,000 on Apple products and computers; $8,000 for personal training sessions for himself and his wife; and $7,200 on a high-end car stereo.

McDougall said in his report that Alexander used the man’s credit card to “support lavish daily spending habits,” which added up to purchases of nearly $400,000.

According to McDougall, the victim became suspicious of Alexander’s activities and reported the possibility of fraud in February. The man said he suffered from mental health issues including attention deficit disorder, depression and post traumatic stress disorder, which affect his ability to carry out normal activities, making him a dependent adult under state law.

At the time of the couple’s arrest, McDougall wrote that Alexander “acknowledged making many of the above purchases and payments, including the tuition, the Audi, the personal training, car stereo, as well as miscellaneous charges to the credit card.” Alexander told police the victim knew about the charges, “but also said some of the charges were excessive and unjustifiable, including the Audi, and said he felt he owed (the) Victim between $183,000 and $217,000 in compensation for the expenses he incurred.”

McDougall wrote that Rodezno told police her husband had paid the bills, “and she assumed the money had come from profits from currency trading. Regarding the vehicles she signed for, she said she followed Alexander’s instructions, and did not know how the payments were made.”

McDougall wrote that his investigation showed Rodezno was aware of the fraudulent activities, noting that, at the time the couple leased the Audi, she signed the lease and told the dealer the alleged victim was her grandfather. Police also said she opened a checking account in her name, which was used to transfer money from the man’s financial accounts.

Alexander and Rodezno were charged on June 5 with theft from an elder or dependent adult. Their bail has been set at $250,000 each, and they are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing June 10 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

Alameda County has declared June “Elder Abuse Awareness Month,” and plans to issue a proclamation about the campaign on June 11 at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, 1221 Oak St., fifth floor, in the board of supervisors chambers.

Correction: Adriana Segurado Rodezno was not an undergraduate advisor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as previously stated in this story.

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  • 4eenie

    Disgusting. Heartless. Don’t forget everyone gets old (if you’re lucky) and many once-vibrant, highly sufficient contributors to our society become vulnerable and confused. People who prey on the elderly are scum.

  • M.E. Lawrence

    That’s pretty low.

    People of all ages who are looking for companionship on sites like Match.com should be aware that such services also attract the occasional would-be scammer. An enterprising lady took advantage of our elderly neighbor in this way.

  • Jack Wilson

    It is always best to employ a professional licensed fiduciary. Where there is money and temptation there will be problems for those who are incapacitated. You can go to http://www.pfac-pro.org to find people who will protect you from elder abuse.

  • 4eenie

    Yes, that’s good advice. However, scams can and do happen anywhere, via “sympathetic” mailers, a knock on the door from a “charity,” etc… I’m living it now with a parent who was a pretty sharp attorney not too long ago, and is now very vulnerable to emotional pleas for money. Where there’s an opportunity for a scam, the scum will take it.

  • WuiceJeasel

    Of course Vallejo had to be involved.

    Loving prayers and soothing thoughts for our elders!

  • paxman

    What the hell do you mean by that Juice Weasel. Are you trying to say Vallejo is worse for dirt bag scammers than Berkeley; or do you think you’r making a covert racist comment and you’re getting away with it because you’re “so sly”?

  • Truth Sayer

    Hey! He always say the same thing, have you noticed? He would say “Loving prayers……..” if you had a hang over.

  • Tizzielish

    Too right. A good friend of mine met a guy through online dating, they ‘fell in love’, he moved in and by the time he left, stealing her car to make his getaway, he had wiped out everything she owned, pledging her house and other assets to take out credit — you have to wonder what kind of banks accepted his forged signature signing over things in her name. He did get arrested in another state for car theft but never got prosecuted for stealing a significant fortune from her, her inheritance from her parents’ farm.

    And she met him . . . on match.com. She was in her forties when this happened and she is smart. He did it right under her nose and she was not the least bit daffy or out of touch. Some criminals, and this is no surprise, hide their true natures and criminal activity.

  • benamarine

    June is elder abuse awareness month, not that anyone cares…

    “Who didn’t I tell.”
    benamarine.blogspot.com
    Criminal Elder Abuser, Criminal Financial Elder Abuse, etc.

  • Jeff Aidikoff

    Elder abuse is a growing epidemic in this country. These individuals need to be put in prison and be compelled to return this man’s property. If anyone needs to consult a professional about a potential case of abuse, please contact me at: info@aidikofflaw.com or visit aidikofflaw.com