HIALEAH, Fla. – At 93 years old, Manuel Toledo was at an assisted living facility on Friday in Hialeah without a penny to his name. Detectives said two relatives committed fraud to empty his bank accounts, sell his house and take his savings.
Ana Castellanos, his niece, said he had worked really hard for everything he had after arriving from Cuba and becoming a U.S. citizen. She said he was a homeowner, and a woman pretending to be a really close relative stole more than $500,000 from him, police said.
“He lost his wife three years ago and there is not one picture left in that house because she threw everything away,” Castellanos said.
Detectives believe Haidee Hidalgo Pena changed her legal name to Haidee Toledo in 2019 as she waited to prey on him. She found an opportunity when he became ill with COVID-19, police said. Her 19-year-old son was her co-conspirator, police said.
Manuel Toledo was released from the hospital to the Hialeah Shores Nursing & Rehabilitation Center’s COVID-19 unit on Aug. 19 and he was in quarantine until Sept. 17. Records show a woman picked him up from the center on Feb. 4 and took him to the Sunshine Adult Center ALF, police said.
According to Detective Stephany Larrea, who was assigned to the case on April 1, his signature was forged on Sept. 10 for a power of attorney and on Oct. 2 for the house deed. His signature was also forged to force him to go to the ALF, police said.
“At the time he was with COVID in the hospital and he wasn’t present for the deed and the signature,” Castellanos said.
Records show Manuel Toledo’s home was sold for about $185,000 on Feb. 5. He told detectives on April 27 that Haidee Toledo had forced him to live at the Sunshine Adult Center ALF.
Detectives said several witnesses believe Manuel Toledo is competent and doesn’t have any mental disability. Castellanos said he asked her for help when he found out he was in financial trouble.
“He wanted his bank information and she would not supply anything,” Castellanos said.
Officers arrested Haidee Toledo’s 19-year-old son, Italo Nelli, on May 7. He told them his mother knew she was under investigation and fled to Spain, police said. He appeared in Miami-Dade County court on Friday.
Nelli, who prosecutors consider to be a co-conspirator in the case, is facing charges of conspiracy to commit an organized scheme to defraud and financial exploitation of an elderly person.
Haidee Toledo is wanted on charges of exploitation of the elderly, conspiracy to commit an organized scheme to defraud, forgery, and fraudulent use of personal ID information of a person 60 or older.
“We are going to do what we can to work with the federal authorities and the Spanish authorities to try to bring her back and hold her accountable,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
Meanwhile, Castellanos, said she is going to do what she can to help her uncle recover his home.