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Trial in elderly exploitation case starts Monday

The trial of Maurice McDaniel, an Inverness man charged with bilking an elderly couple out of nearly half a million dollars, is set to begin Monday.

The trial is expected to last through the week, Circuit Judge Ric Howard said at McDaniel's Thursday pretrial conference.

Jury selection is scheduled to start 9 a.m. Monday, and opening statements will likely happen that afternoon, Howard said.

McDaniel, 58, faces five criminal charges _ two counts of exploitation of an elderly person, two counts of grand theft of more than $100,000, and one count of organized fraud, according to court records.

McDaniel's estranged wife, Anne, 41, is scheduled to testify against him, prosecutors said. The two are in the process of getting a divorce, according to court records.

Anne Marie McDaniel made a deal with prosecutors in early 2004. In exchange for testifying against Maurice McDaniel, six of the seven charges against her were dropped. She pleaded guilty to one count of exploitation of the elderly, according to court records.

She will be sentenced after Maurice McDaniel's case is concluded.

At Maurice McDaniel's pretrial hearing, one of his defense attorneys argued McDaniel's acute back pain, which forces him to stand up and walk around every 10 minutes, could be a problem in the trial.

Howard decided to go ahead with the trial, however, telling the defense that he would instruct the jurors about McDaniel's health condition.

The McDaniels were arrested in February 2002 after authorities accused them of swindling $450,000 from an elderly couple, Harry and Mildred Edgerly, and failing to provide adequate care for Mrs. Edgerly after her husband died.

The McDaniels met the Edgerlys in early 1999, when Mrs. Edgerly sought a supply of oxygen at Florida Oxygen & DME Supplies of Inverness, where the McDaniels worked, according to authorities.

By November 2000, the McDaniels persuaded the couple to give them money from various investments and insurance policies, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Two weeks after signing a will that made no mention of the McDaniels, a new draft was drawn up that gave the couple virtually everything they owned, according to authorities.

The elderly couple also gave the McDaniels the proceeds of the Edgerlys' real estate sales in Citrus County and Michigan, according to authorities.

The McDaniels took legal responsibility for Mrs. Edgerly after her husband died in September 1999 at age 81. Prosecutors say they failed to protect her.

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office launched its investigation in November 2000, shortly after Mrs. Edgerly died in an unlicensed nursing home at age 87. One of the Edgerlys' friends tipped off the Sheriff's Office about the McDaniels.

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 860-7312 or vansicklesptimes.com.

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