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Clearwater woman duped man with dementia out of $20,000, police say

LARGO — A 37-year-old Clearwater woman is accused of manipulating an elderly man who has dementia into giving her more than $20,000 over the course of a few months.

Dorothy Opal Sheffield of 1736 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., No. 22, was arrested Wednesday and charged with exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult, as well as violation of probation in a prostitution case.

On Thursday afternoon, she was being held in the Pinellas County Jail without bail.

According to an arrest report, Sheffield befriended the man several months ago and "quickly convinced him to open several credit cards and obtain personal loans that total over $25,000."

Sheffield told the man she needed money to pay medical bills that could be paid only with cash, the report said.

Officers with the Largo Police Department's problem-oriented policing unit first came across Sheffield and the man in late June at a Largo hotel, said police Lt. Mike Loux.

"The officers felt it was kind of weird that she was with this man. He was showing signs of dementia," Loux said.

They warned Sheffield "not to take advantage" of the man, who was not identified but is in his 90s, Loux said.

On Wednesday, members of the same unit saw Sheffield at a Seminole Boulevard apartment complex, and they said they watched as she tried to buy drugs with a $100 Target gift card the man had bought her. The elderly man was with her, Loux said.

When police interviewed Sheffield, she told them the man had given her more than $20,000 and that she had used the money to buy drugs, to pay her court-ordered restitution in another criminal case, and to pay for a hotel room for herself for the past several months, the report said.

Clearwater woman duped man with dementia out of $20,000, police say 09/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2011 9:30pm]
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