Crime Writer's Sons Accused of Financial Exploitation

A once-prolific true crime writer has found a dose of true crime in her own home after discovering that two of her sons were allegedly bilking her out of thousands of dollars.

According to an article in People magazine, best-selling true crime author Ann Rule suffered a serious fall and requires 24-hour care. Wheelchair-bound and requiring oxygen around the clock, the 84-year-old author says she discovered that two of her sons, Andrew, 54, and Michael, 51, have forged her signature on checks in order to obtain more money from her than the $25,000 monthly salary she already provided them.

Rule allegedly told prosecutors that her sons were both belligerent and abusive in attempting to gain money from her, before resorting to theft and forgery. She says that Michael, 51, would scream at her, berate her, and throw things violently across the room in an attempt to bully more money from her. When that didn't work, she says, he allegedly began forging her signature on checks. Rule's bookkeeper reported that Michael would hide bank statements or provide incomplete bank statements in an effort to conceal the forgery. Reports say he later admitted to writing more than $85,000 in forged checks on his mother's account. He has been charged with first degree theft and forgery.

His older brother Andrew allegedly used slightly different means to obtain money from his ailing mother. Andrew allegedly bullied his mother relentlessly until she would finally write him a check to end the abuse. Reports say he would threaten suicide, scream obscenities, and constantly harass his mother for more money to take care of his admitted drug and gambling addictions. The harassment became so constant, says Rule, that she was forced to file a restraining order against her son and to arrange for him to pick up his monthly salary checks at her attorney's office, rather than in her home to keep distance. Police say he violated the restraining order to bully his mother out of $23,000. He has been charged with first degree theft.

 It is a sad state of affairs when children manipulate, exploit, and harass their elderly and ailing parents into giving them money--especially when those "children" are adults receiving a $25,000 monthly salary from their parents.

In Oklahoma, such acts of manipulation, harassment, and intimidation are often charged as "financial exploitation by caretaker." Financial exploitation of the elderly is, on the first offense, a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Anyone convicted is subject to the Elderly and Incapacitated Victim's Protection Act (22 O.S. § 991a-13 through 991a-21). This act provides enhanced sentencing, including mandatory minimum jail or prison terms; restitution to victims for not only illegally obtained funds, but also resulting out-of-pocket expenses; community service; and forfeiture of property.

Learn more about financial crimes against the elderly and defense options by calling to speak with an Oklahoma white collar crimes lawyer.

Image Credit: adapted from Keith Cooper