DUNEDIN — A 56-year-old man was arrested Thursday on allegations he stole more than $260,000 from his 91-year-old mother, authorities say.
Dwight K. Jones, of 3485 Pine St., was charged with theft from a person 65 years of age or older.
According to Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Thomas Nestor, Jones has stolen $264,036.13 worth of money, assets and property from his mother since June 2004. He was able to manipulate his mother by "acting in a position of trust and confidence," Nestor said.
He had been operating as his mother's power of attorney since 1999.
The Sheriff's Office is not releasing the victim's name to protect her privacy. She lives alone and seems to possess all her faculties, Nestor said.
It all started in 2004, when Jones asked his mother to take out a new equity line of credit on her Largo home, Nestor said. He told her he wanted to start a painting business.
She agreed, even though she had paid off her mortgage years before.
Then, Jones asked his mother to take out another line of credit. This time, Jones said, he would use the money to buy a home they could rent out to supplement her Social Security.
Jones never started a painting business, and he never redirected money from the rental home back to his mother, Nestor said. Instead, he kept the money from the loans, which added up to $222,000.
"He was essentially living off this money, but he wasn't living flamboyantly," Nestor said. "It just seems that he didn't want to work. This was his only income."
Sheriff's investigators found that Jones also ran up about $41,000 in debt on his mother's credit cards. He had the bills sent to his house so his mother would not find out about the charges.
Deputies have been investigating the case since August 2009.
Jones' mother had started to receive phone calls and letters from banks and creditors. Confused, she called her daughter in Pennsylvania and asked for help sorting out the bills.
The daughter flew to Florida and discovered that her brother was taking advantage of her mother. She contacted the Sheriff's Office.
Now, Jones' mother has been left to fend off banks and credit card companies looking to recoup their money, Nestor said.
JPMorgan Chase has frozen parts of Jones' mother's remaining assets and are taking legal action against her. She has had to hire an attorney to try to keep the home she has owned since 1965.
Jones was arrested at his home at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail on Thursday evening.
Martine Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4224.