Cop accused of scamming elderly woman

| 11/12/2019
Cayman News Service
Cayman courthouse, George Town

(CNS): Daniel Ezra Meeks, a former police officer with the RCIPS, tried to con an elderly and vulnerable woman by getting her to put his name on her land ownership papers within a week of meeting her after attending her home on a call-out, the court heard Tuesday. Meeks is facing one charge of misconduct in public office after his alleged efforts to secure the property were thwarted. Crown counsel Candia James said he had taken advantage of and exerted undue influence and manipulate his victim.

Meeks (34) met the senior citizen, who is 73 years old, when he was called out to her George Town home in November 2017. He was dispatched to deal with a domestic incident involving the woman and her daughter, who has mental health problems, James told the court.

But after dealing with the case that day and arresting her daughter, Meeks returned the next day out of uniform unsolicited. He brought the woman a spare phone because hers had been damaged by her daughter during the previous day’s altercation.

The court heard how Meeks then proceeded to visit the woman on several more occasions, including taking her to visit her grandson, who is a resident at Maple House. When she took the witness stand, the victim said that Meeks was coming to her home uninvited, but after she revealed some personal things to him, clearly indicating her vulnerability, he began asking her if she would allow him to put his name on her house.

The officer told her he needed get a loan to buy his own home for his family as they were living in very cramped accommodation. He also said he had twins who were sick and needed medical attention in the US.

The prosecutor explained how, in less than a week, he had managed to get the woman, who cannot read properly, to sign the papers and got his name secured on the property title deeds on a home and land worth some $275,000, all while her daughter was in jail.

In very emotional testimony, the woman told the court that she had a very limited education after being taken out of school when she was around nine years old. She explained that at the time Meeks conned her into signing the papers, her daughter was unwell and causing trouble, and she had no means of visiting her grandson, who is autistic, because the family does not have a car and she was all alone.

She said she was very depressed at the time and she was wary of what Meeks might do, given his position. The woman told the court that she felt she had to go along with his demands but didn’t really understand what he was doing or what she was signing. But, she said, she also felt she was doing something wrong.

After he had taken her to a notary public to sign a second set of documents, she said she did not really know what she had put her name to because she could not read them and no one read them or explained anything to her. It was not until later that she fully understood she had effectively made him joint owner of her home, in which she had lived since the early 1980’s. The woman, who is a widow, explained that she had worked hard as a housekeeper in order to pay off the loan she used to buy the land and build the house.

The following night, she said, she could not sleep and was very worried that “I had messed myself up” and “done something very wrong”.

But with no one to confide in, it was not until her daughter was released from jail that she told her what had happened. It was then that they began to reverse the process, as Meeks had not yet confirmed the transfer since he had not paid the stamp duty. The woman reported Meeks to the police, attended Lands and Survey, who called Meeks to take his name from the documents.

When he was interviewed by the RCIPS Professional Standards Unit, he claimed that it was the woman who had wanted him to put his name to the documents so he could take care of her grandson.

However, the prosecutor said that the officer had misconducted himself as he should never have engaged in such an arrangement with a vulnerable woman whom he had met in the course of his duties. She pointed out that any form of offer to an officer should be reported, and asked how was it not entirely improper for a police officer to have secured his name on the property documents of the woman’s home within one week of meeting her as a result of an official call out.

The case continues.

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