PORT ST. LUCIE— Two Port St. Lucie people are accused of exploiting a disabled retired woman by changing the woman’s power of attorney and putting her home into a trust.
Julie Spoerl, 65, and James Savage, 51, both of Port St. Lucie were arrested Sept. 16 on two counts each of exploitation of an elderly or disabled person of less than $10,000 and organized fraud.
Port St. Lucie Police Department officers were called in June by the woman’s son who told police Spoerl and Savage were changing his mother’s bank account password and taking advantage of her. The son did not indicate his mother’s age.
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The son told officers his mother has been seen by three doctors and diagnosed with moderate dementia by all of them. The son also told police in 2011 his mother’s power of attorney was put in his name because of her condition.
In March the woman told her son that Spoerl, who represented herself as a caretaker for older people, was going to move in with his mother and care for her. Savage also told the son he planned to help care for the man’s mother.
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The son told officers he typically pays his mother’s bills online and noticed her bank’s password and other credentials were changed without his knowledge. The son then got a lawyer because he feared Spoerl and Savage were taking advantage of his mother.
Officers said they went to the woman’s Port St. Lucie home after they got the call from her son and spoke with the woman. The woman told officers she trusts the pair and signed multiple papers without knowing what they were for.
Police said they spoke with a clerk at the St. Lucie County Clerk of Court’s office who gave them the name of the law office and the paralegal that helped put the home into a new trust.
Officers spoke with the paralegal who said the woman and Spoerl and Savage came into the office and the woman agreed to have the pair be her power of attorney, as well as place her home in a trust.
The paralegal told police she asked the woman multiple times if she understood the changes and the woman told the paralegal she did and that the pair were her friends.
Police said Savage is on probation for multiple counts of conspiracy wire fraud, money laundering and interstate transport of stolen property.
Spoerl and Savage were taken to the St. Lucie County Jail. They were released later on $40,000 bond each.
Sara Marino is a TCPalm breaking news reporter covering Martin County. You can reach Sara on Twitter @saradmarino or email her at Sara.Marino@tcpalm.com. If you’re a subscriber, thank you. If not, become a subscriber to get the latest breaking news.