Elder abuse stories are always heart wrenching. That criminals would even think of taking advantage of people who are unable to defend themselves is abhorrent. Yet elderly victims, particularly those suffering from dementia, make them easy targets. Prosecutors in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania say Mary Mechelli, age 54, forged the will of a dying neighbor while the neighbor was hospitalized.
If the forged will isn’t bad enough, a grand jury also indicted Mechelli for forging powers of attorney that gave her the right to access her neighbor’s bank account and terminate her medical care! The neighbor, 79 year-old Margaret Dorn, died a few weeks later.
After Dorn’s death, prosecutors say that Mechelli rented out Dorn’s home. When the tenant became suspicious, Mechelli suddenly evicted the tenant causing him to go to the police. Other neighbors also became suspicious. That’s when Mechelli’s alleged scheme quickly unraveled.
Ultimately Dorn’s only real living relative was contacted. She didn’t even know that her aunt had died nor that Mechelli was claiming to be Dorn’s “niece.”
Most states require wills to be witnessed and notarized. Forging a will or power of attorney form is relatively easy. Finding others to go along with the scheme is usually more difficult. An Associated Press story says the notary who allegedly witnessed Dorn sign the will has now admitted that she didn’t witness the signing of the documents. The indictment says that the victim’s name was even misspelled on one of the forgeries.
Mechelli has been charged with felony theft, records tampering and forgery. While an indictment is only an accusation (everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty), we hope justice will be swift and severe if she is found convicted.
Forged wills can destroy families and leave the rightful heirs penniless. If you are the victim of inheritance fraud, a forged will or money wrongfully taken from the estate of a loved one, don’t delay. Often the only source of recovery is the thief him or herself. That means quick action is necessary to freeze assets before they are spent.
The fraud lawyers at Mahany & Ertl specialize in all types of fraud including forged wills and inheritance fraud. Let us help you get back what is rightfully yours or protect your loved one’s final wishes. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (direct). All inquiries kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Services available in many jurisdictions.
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Posted by Brian Mahany, Esq.