FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Police arrested a man accused of exploiting a 90-year-old woman for $79,000.
Police charged 51-year-old Rickie Velie with theft from a person 65 years of age or older and exploitation of an elderly person.
Velie had a business relationship with the victim, according to a police report. He got her to buy him a truck, altered at least 13 checks written in her name, and used her money to pay his own personal bank account.
Velie also convinced the victim to sell her home and rent one where they both live, police said. He agreed to pay the rent in alternating months, but has failed to pay any other expenses.
Some of the victim's neighbors agree with what Fort Lauderdale police are saying about Velie and his relationship with her.
"I believe this man took advantage of her," said one neighbor. "When she was down, she was not in her right mind."
Velie bonded out of jail Wednesday. Local 10's Baron James caught up with him at the house located at 1612 Northeast 18th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.
According to a police affidavit, Velie coerced the elderly woman into renting the home to live in together, he as her lawn and garden guy turned personal care giver, after he allegedly conned her into selling a different house for $160,000.
That home had been paid off by the victim, who had called it home since the late 1940's.
"This house was her pride and joy," said a neighbor.
Meanwhile, her longtime neighbors said they haven't seen the victim since last Thanksgiving.
"She had fallen and gotten hurt. I don't know if she were on medication, if dementia were starting to set in," said a neighbor. "I don't know."
Some of the victim's new neighbors around the recently rented house told Local 10's Baron James they have never seen her.
"I never saw a woman ever," said Lisa Gordon.
"Actually, I've never seen another person in that house," said Nate Houri.
But the neighbors said they have seen Velie.
"I had a few words with him. He was just like a regular guy," Houri said.
They've also seen a 2013 Ford F-150 pickup truck, the same make and model that Velie is accused of conning the victim into buying for him, which cost $51,000.
Friends of the elderly woman, however, expressed their concern.
"She would never, ever, ever in a million years give up her house and her possessions," said a neighbor.
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