Chesterton Tribune



Liberty Township man charged with defrauding his elderly mother

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A Liberty Township man has been accused of plundering his elderly mother’s bank accounts and using her identity to open fraudulent credit card accounts, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said.

Richard James Briney, 47, of 4 Browning Lane, was booked into the Porter County Jail on Monday, charged with five counts of fraud and one of identity deception.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Det. Sgt. Tim Manteuffel, in 2010 Briney and his siblings decided to move their mother from Florida to Indiana after it was determined she could no longer care for herself. In August 2011 she was subsequently diagnosed with dementia and then suffered a stroke “which resulted in her no longer having any kind of memory” and at that point the siblings decided to move their mother into a brother’s home and hire Briney--who was unemployed--to provide her with care, Manteuffel stated in his affidavit.

In November 2011, however, Briney advised his sister that he intended to buy a home and move his mother into it, a plan to which the sister objected because “she did not want their mother’s money tied up in case she had to be placed in a nursing home,” Manteuffel stated. Nevertheless, in June 2012 Briney moved into what his sister described as an “extremely extravagant” house at 4 Browning Lane in Liberty Township.

“Suspicious of this activity, (Briney’s sister) went on line and learned that the owner of the house was (their mother) and that she had purchased the home in December of 2011, after her dementia diagnosis,” Manteuffel stated.

Then, in August 2012, on an attorney’s advice, the sister requested her mother’s credit report and discovered that five credit card accounts had been established between January and June 2012 with balances totaling $36,777; that a Florida savings account with a previous balance of $41,599.50 had been emptied; that an $8,000 CD had been cashed; and that her mother’s IRA had been changed and now listed Briney as the beneficiary, Manteuffel stated.

“After repeated attempts” to interview Briney, Manteuffel finally succeeded in February 2013. At that time Briney “insisted that (his mother) was of sound mind and knew what she was doing when she purchased the house,” Manteuffel stated.

But though Briney “gave different explanations for the various accounts in dispute,” he did “ultimately” admit “that, because he is still unemployed, he is paying his bills out of his mother’s accounts,” Manteuffel stated.

Briney has never had power of attorney over his mother’s finances, Manteuffel added; Briney acknowledged in a September 2011 email to his sister that their mother’s condition precluded her from legally signing a contract; and an RN familiar with Briney’s mother stated that she would “not be able to make decisions on her own, sign paperwork, or open a credit card account.”

Each of the six counts filed against Briney is a Class D felony punishable by a term of six months to three years.

Bond was set at $1,500 cash only.




Posted 2/26/2014