When someone awards another person power of attorney in their estate, that individual has a duty to act in the incapacitated person’s best interests. If they don’t, it can lead to federal charges.
Such is the case against John Jerome O’Hara of Kentucky, who was charged with 18 counts of fraud by a grand jury. This includes 10 counts of bank fraud, four counts of wire fraud and four of “access device fraud.”
Paying himself with his mom’s money
O’Hara allegedly robbed his mother of more than $332,000 after gaining power of attorney over her affairs in June 2014. His mother was receiving care in a Kentucky nursing home while suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Instead of using his mother’s income to pay for her care and the mortgage on her home, he allegedly used the money to finance personal expenses. The indictment accuses O’Hara of paying himself with his mother’s money by writing checks to himself. As a result, his mother’s home foreclosed and other family members were forced to pay over $100,000 to continue her care.
A power of attorney cannot legally do whatever they want with the incapacitated person’s money and must act in the person’s best interests. To be in effect, a power of attorney documents must be signed, witnessed and notarized.
The importance of an attorney
The charges against O’Hara carry a maximum of several lifetime sentences, large fines and restitution. However, he does not have an attorney representing him, according to court documents.
Federal fraud charges can be incredibly serious but charged individuals can fight for their rights. An attorney who represents defendants in federal fraud cases can help provide the thorough defense needed against these charges.