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Elderly Pinellas woman scammed twice, agency says

State investigators have arrested a Pasco couple they say scammed an elderly Pinellas woman out of nearly $200,000.

John and Debra Morehart were charged in Pinellas County with counts that include conspiracy, grand theft of more than $100,000 and crimes against the elderly, according to the Florida Department of Financial Services.

The Moreharts, both 50, told the woman they would invest $199,000 of her money in a hedge fund, authorities said.

Instead, they used it to buy a million-dollar house on Lake Tarpon, according to Department of Financial Services spokeswoman Brannon Jordan.

The 89-year-old woman had been victimized once before by a company selling unlicensed annuities to the elderly, Jordan said. She received a settlement for $199,000 and investigators said the Moreharts "were aware" of this in October 2006 when they took a blank check from her and filled it out.

The woman was in touch with investigators from her first case and mentioned the second one to them.

John Morehart, of 11508 Manistique Way in New Port Richey, was arrested Tuesday. Debra Morehart, of the same address, was arrested on Friday.

Each posted $115,000 bail after being booked into the Pinellas County Jail. Neither could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Elderly Pinellas woman scammed twice, agency says 05/14/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2008 11:05am]
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