NEW PORT RICHEY — Eloise Mudway lost her house to the people she trusted to care for her in her old age.
On Friday, a prosecutor tried to have a judge order them to give it back.
Joseph and Cynthia Clancy were convicted last month of grand theft of a person 65 or older. Prosecutors said the couple tricked Mudway, now 92, into signing over the deed to her Hilltop Drive home, drained her bank accounts, then sent her to live with someone else after the elderly widow had a heart attack in 2004.
Mudway has an active civil suit against the Clancys, which could enable her to get her house back. The home, on 5 acres, has fallen into disrepair.
But Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis filed a motion this week in the criminal case seeking a judge's order forcing the Clancys to divest themselves of any interest in the property.
But Circuit Judge Shawn Crane sided with the Clancys' defense attorneys, who argued that ownership of the house is a civil matter. Crane didn't deny Halkitis' motion but said his courtroom wasn't the proper venue.
The state can file a civil action against the Clancys to try to get the deed back in Mudway's name, but Halkitis said he likely won't do that because it would duplicate Mudway's civil case.
Mudway met Cynthia Clancy, 46, at a doctor's office where Clancy worked. She and husband, Joseph, 56, moved in with Mudway in 2001. The arrangement worked for a while, with the Clancys taking her out for steak dinners and seeing to her medical needs. But they gradually cut her off from her friends, made her completely dependent on them and eventually got her to sign over control of her financial affairs to them.
Mudway has testified that for a time they fed her only bologna sandwiches and pickle loaf and made her do their laundry.
She has been living with friend Jeff Kores and his wife while pursuing both the civil and criminal cases. The Clancys went to trial in September 2008, but a legal hiccup resulted in a mistrial.
The Clancys each face up to 30 years in prison when they are sentenced Oct. 22.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.