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Woman tells court what she lost in elderly exploitation case

NEW PORT RICHEY — They called her mom.

Joseph and Cynthia Clancy weren't related to Eloise Mudway, but the elderly widow said she and the couple built a close bond while sharing Mudway's New Port Richey home.

But then, authorities say, they turned her into a victim.

Mudway said the Clancys burned through her savings, transferred her $370,000 house to themselves and booted her out, sending her to live in an assisted living facility.

Elderly victims of financial exploitation are usually shielded from the public, their names withheld by authorities who want to protect them from other predators.

But Mudway, 91, came to the courtroom Wednesday, in a wheelchair pushed by her caretaker, to publicly point the finger at the Clancys, who are on trial for exploitation of the elderly and grand theft.

She agreed to have her name used in this story.

• • •

Mudway, 91, is frail but feisty, at times commenting to her caretaker during the questioning. She used headphones to hear Assistant State Attorney Mary Handsel's questions.

Handsel asked Mudway what the living situation was like when the Clancys moved in seven years ago.

"The first few years, they treated me like a mother," Mudway told Handsel. "They even called me mother."

But according to a sheriff's report, the Clancys forged Mudway's name on checks to deplete her $32,500 checking account.

Mudway told Handsel that at one point, Cynthia Clancy, 45, told Mudway that she didn't have any money in the bank.

A few years after she moved in, Cynthia Clancy had Mudway sign a two-page document. When Mudway asked what the document was about, Clancy didn't explain, sheriff's reports say.

It turned out to be a quitclaim deed to transfer ownership of her house to the Clancys, who still live in her Hilltop Drive home in Golden Acres.

"Did you know that by signing this piece of paper," Handsel said while holding the document, "you were losing your house?"

"No," Mudway said.

• • •

Mudway met Cynthia Clancy at her doctor's office, according to Pasco sheriff's reports. At the time, Clancy was the manager of the office.

"I asked if they could come live with me," Mudway told Handsel. "It's a big house, and I'm afraid of the dark. I said I'd pay the bills. At that time, I was fond of Cindy."

A few months after they moved in, Cynthia Clancy took Mudway to a law office to have her sign over power of attorney. Three years later, Mudway signed over her house.

In December of 2004, Mudway was hospitalized. When she was released, she said, the Clancys wouldn't allow her to return to the Hilltop Drive home, even though her belongings were inside, according to a sheriff's office report.

The Clancys arranged for Mudway to rent a room with Jeff Kores, who runs an assisted living facility in his home. They told Kores that Mudway was expected to die within six months, although she wasn't, according to a sheriff's office report.

Because of the complexity of the financial transactions in the case, both sides agreed to a bench trial, in which the judge — not a jury — will weigh the facts and deliver a verdict.

Testimony will resume at 10 a.m. today in Judge Jack Day's courtroom.

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Woman tells court what she lost in elderly exploitation case 09/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 5, 2008 10:09am]
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