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updated: 1/1/2013 6:43 AM

Wadsworth woman accused of ripping off 93-year-old man

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  • Melissa A. Reilly

      Melissa A. Reilly

 
 

A Wadsworth woman has been charged with fraudulently using a 93-year-old man's credit cards and checking account, along with persuading him to give her $30,000 from a certificate of deposit, authorities said.

Melissa A. Reilly, 57, of the 14000 block of Kaiser Road, is held on $150,000 bail at the Lake County jail.

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Reilly was arrested Dec. 20 and charged with aggravated identity theft and unlawful financial exploitation of the elderly, Lake County sheriff's Sgt. Sara Balmes said Monday.

Reilly befriended the 93-year-old man at First Church of the Nazarene on North McAree Road in Waukegan in 2009, according to police. Balmes said Reilly is church Pastor Jerry Harris' sister-in-law.

Harris said he helped the victim gather bank accounts and pull together financial data, so he could file a police report. Harris said the accusations against Reilly are not something he can tolerate, regardless if she's family.

Balmes said Reilly received the $30,000 from the victim's CD about three years ago. Reilly then gained use of eight of the man's credit cards and racked up roughly $25,000 in charges, Balmes said.

Reilly's tab on the victim's credit cards included slightly less than $10,000 for a refrigerator, washers, dryers, a television and a home theater center from a Rent-a-Center location, Balmes said. She said Rent-A-Center is attempting to reclaim its property.

Authorities accuse Reilly of using the man's checking account to pay for the $25,000 in fraudulent charges.

Authorities said the man started receiving insufficient fund notifications from his bank and asked his daughter to begin looking at his financial situation in late 2012. Balmes said the woman found the canceled checks had Reilly's signature on them.

Harris said the 93-year-old man, a longtime respected church member, returned to a hospital emergency room Monday because of stress apparently caused by his financial problems. Harris said he visited the man in the hospital earlier in December and got him to open up about what purportedly had happened, then encouraged filing the police report.

"It breaks my heart," said Harris, who informed church members about the situation during his Sunday sermon. "I have been doing everything I can to help with this damage control."

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