Second arrest made in Brooksville lottery scam

BROOKSVILLE — At first, investigators thought Martin "Dan" Patrick was another victim.

Brooksville police had been investigating Doris Siegel, a Brooksville septuagenarian who, authorities say, bilked her elderly neighbors out of more than $1 million in a Nigerian-style lottery scheme. They found evidence in Siegel's home that Patrick, 77, a prominent Brooksville businessman and the son of a former county commissioner, had given her $338,000, police Chief George Turner said.

Then investigators found a written agreement, signed by both Siegel and Patrick, that indicated the pair would split any proceeds from the lottery deal, Turner said.

They found evidence that Siegel and Patrick had exchanged some $500,000 during the time period that authorities say Siegel was defrauding her victims, and that Siegel had made Patrick the beneficiary in her will.

And they learned that Patrick had been showing up at banks with paper bags full of money, but never made deposits of more than $10,000 to avoid state and federal reporting requirements, Turner said.

Now, Turner says, Patrick appears to be a co-conspirator. On Wednesday, Patrick was arrested at his insurance agency, Dan Patrick and Associates, on S Broad Street. He is accused of forgery and illegal structuring of financial transactions. Patrick also is charged with perjury in connection with statements he made about his finances in 2007 when he was going through a divorce.

He has not been charged with fraud as Siegel has, and an arrest affidavit makes no mention of the lottery scheme. Turner said the investigation is ongoing.

"Evidence shows (Siegel) took in a lot of money," Turner said. "The only person she paid any money to was Martin Daniel Patrick."

Patrick was booked into Hernando County Jail just after noon Wednesday. He posted 10 percent of $70,000 bail and was released just before 3 p.m., records show. A message left at his office Wednesday went unreturned.

But Patrick, in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times the day before his arrest, indicated he knew something was coming.

Patrick denied any involvement in the international lottery. He said he knew Siegel and that the two often lent each other money, but it was not nefarious in nature.

Patrick indicated the arrest may be payback for a complaint he filed with the FBI against Brooksville Police Detective Shawn Terry after Terry arrested him in January 2009.

"Shawn Terry's trying to get something against me," Patrick said in the Tuesday interview.

In the 2009 arrest, Patrick was pulled over in Brooksville for careless driving. His office assistant, Barbara Cherry, was with him. According to an arrest report, Patrick then drove away, and Terry gave chase.

Patrick finally stopped at 823 S Broad St., got out of his vehicle and said, "I am on my property now, you can't do anything to me," according to the report.

Patrick then intentionally struck Terry with the door of his vehicle, the report said. Both Patrick and Cherry were arrested and charged with battery on a police officer, fleeing to elude and resisting arrest without violence.

The case is pending, and Patrick is fighting the charges. The incident prompted Patrick to file a complaint with the FBI earlier this year alleging that Terry violated his civil rights and harassed him.

Patrick said FBI agents recently interviewed him about the incident and Terry's involvement. Federal officials also contacted the Brooksville Police Department seeking answers. The status of the investigation is unknown; an FBI spokesman declined to comment Wednesday.

Turner could not be reached late Wednesday to discuss any contact the FBI has had with his department.

Patrick's attorney, Jack Hoogewind, said Wednesday he was surprised to hear that his client had been arrested. The last Hoogewind had heard — about two weeks ago — the police thought Patrick was another one of Siegel's victims.

"He and Doris have known each for a long time and they had dealings, but the last indication we had was she owed him money," Hoogewind said.

Hoogewind had not seen the arrest affidavits and said he spoke to Patrick only briefly Wednesday afternoon.

•••

Siegel, 79, came to the attention of police in 2004, when she apparently was duped by a Nigerian lottery scam. She went to police, who told her that she had likely been victimized, based on the correspondence she had received.

Siegel then used that information and deception, police said, to con money from other people. Inside her home, police said, they found piles of paperwork detailing how to operate a lottery scam. Lottery scams take several forms; victims often are asked to put up money in return for a piece of the lottery winnings.

Siegel pleaded not guilty last month in her first court appearance. She remains in the Hernando County jail.

There is some evidence that Patrick purchased at least one home and some land with money he received from Siegel, Turner said, but authorities still don't know what happened to the bulk of the more than $1 million Siegel is suspecting of collecting from victims. Turner said investigators believe the amount is higher but that victims are afraid or embarrassed to come forward.

Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee said Brooksville police contacted him about a month ago to advise him that Patrick might be involved in the Siegel case.

About two weeks ago, Barbee sat in when authorities questioned Patrick's employee, Barbara Cherry.

"Nothing came out of that interview that I thought was going to bring charges, so when I got the call saying he was arrested, I was surprised," Barbee said.

Barbee said he has received a file about 3 inches thick from Brooksville police and will wade through it to decide whether to pursue the case.

According to the arrest affidavit, Patrick produced a document during the financial disclosure phase of his divorce in 2007 showing that Siegel had loaned him $175,000.

"This would then show the money as a debt, not an asset, and be untouchable in the pending court proceedings," Sgt. John Messer wrote in the affidavit.

But Siegel later told investigators that she never had that money and that Patrick had asked her to sign the form as "a favor," the affidavit states.

Records from Bank of America obtained by investigators show that Patrick in 2006 came to a branch with more than $152,000 in cash and told a clerk that he needed a cashier's check but his name was not to appear on the check "because he was in the middle of a divorce." By purchasing other cashier's checks and making another check out to a local business, he was able to pay himself the bulk of the original sum, the affidavit states.

•••

Cherry told the Times on Tuesday that she never saw anything suspicious and suggested the investigation was a plot by Terry and the Brooksville Police Department against Patrick.

She said Terry has called and tried to intimidate her into making claims against her boss, even asking questions about where she lived and asking for secret meetings.

Patrick and Cherry are not the first to complain about Terry's conduct. His disciplinary record is the worst at the department, despite his promotion to detective last year. In his more than 10 years as a law enforcement officer, Terry has been the subject of 30 complaints and investigations and eight reprimands, some of which date to his time at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. Most recently, state prosecutors investigated Terry for perjury after he lied in a deposition.

Patrick has his own checkered past.

He was arrested by the Sheriff's Office on burglary charges in 2005, records show. Those charges were dropped.

He was arrested the following year on a charge of criminal mischief. The prosecutor decided not to move forward with that case.

And in 2008, Patrick was arrested in Hernando County for driving under the influence. He entered a plea of no contest to a lesser charge of reckless driving and was required to pay a fine and do community service.

Patrick is well known in Hernando County.

His father, L.T. Patrick, sat on the County Commission for 12 years. Dan Patrick made an unsuccessful bid for a commission seat in 1988.

During that bid, the Times reported that Patrick has been repeatedly disciplined by the state Department of Insurance for violating state insurance regulations. The state agency suspended Patrick's license to sell insurance three times during 1983 and 1984 for what regulators described as a "total disregard for the insurance laws and the consumers of the State of Florida."

Patrick called the violations "simple mistakes."

Times news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 584-5537 or tmarrero@sptimes.com.

Second arrest made in Brooksville lottery scam 05/05/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 9:50pm]

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