Delaware County Man Arrested For Stealing More Than $875,000 From His Grandmother

April 23, 2007 – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrest of a Delaware County man who allegedly stole more than $875,000 from his grandmother to support his own gambling habits, purchase a car, rent a limo, and other personal expenses.

Michael Schmitt, 38, of Franklin, is charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (class C felony), Forgery in the Second Degree (class D felony), and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (class E felony). If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison. He was arraigned in Town of Franklin Court by Justice Don Smith, who set bail at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond.

Between December 3, 2003 and November 16, 2005, Schmitt forged the signature of his grandmother on various documents and letters requesting the redemption of certificates of deposits (CDs), annuities and bonds held in his grandmother’s name. The bulk of the funds were then deposited into a joint account in the names of Schmitt, his wife and grandmother.

He claimed the money was needed to pay for nursing care, tax obligations and other expenses, but instead used the money to gamble at Turning Stone casino and to pay personal expenses, including a new car. Meanwhile, his grandmother’s income taxes went unpaid from 2002 to 2004. She died July 27, 2006 at the age of 88.

During the Attorney General’s investigation, Schmitt admitted that he took the money because he knew his grandmother’s will left a sizeable portion to his mother – from whom he was estranged – and that he was upset for not receiving any money in his grandmother’s will. He also admitted that his grandmother was unaware that he took the money.

“The allegations against this individual indicate a pattern of behavior that is absolutely deplorable,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Stealing from the elderly is an egregious act and we will seek swift justice for the defendant. My office is committed to protecting New York’s elderly population from those who would seek to victimize them.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Johanna Sullivan of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Viola I. Abbitt. The investigation was conducted by Investigator Mark Spencer with the assistance of Forensic Accountant and Senior Investigator Lester Dier.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.