Con Man Who Got Elderly Retirees to Drain Their Savings to Pay Him Nearly $2 Million in Cash Gets 20-year Max

Micaha Paul Sneed used fake names, a "web of lies" and the trust of elderly people, including a 91-year-old, to scam them out of a total of $1.9 million in cash and leave them without retirement savings or homes to live in, prosecutors say. The Fort Worth con man befriended his victims while working as a flooring contractor and told them he was suing the government over the proceeds of his father's Florida estate. He expected a $250 million settlement. He just needed some money to pay his legal fees - several hundred dollars at a time.His victims were a close network of friends and relatives in Fort Worth. They cashed out their retirement savings, took on crushing debt and ended up losing their homes to pay Sneed, according to the indictment.Sneed, 40, hounded the retirees for money. Some of them made a trip to a Fort Worth McDonald's parking lot several times a day to give him cash. To maintain the ruse, he showed them fake court documents and wrote them counterfeit checks that he claimed were partial payments from the lawsuit, federal court records say. On Friday in Fort Worth, U.S. District Judge John McBryde sentenced Sneed to the maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison. He did so after listening to three of the victims tearfully describe how Sneed wrecked their lives. The sentencing guidelines called for up to a little more than 11 years, but McBryde said even the maximum under the law was "not adequate" to punish Sneed. He called Sneed the most dishonest person who's ever been before him."You don't know how to be honest," McBryde told him. "I don't know what it's going to take to stop you."Prison, he added, would "certainly slow you down."Sneed's case is part of a crackdown on elder fraud by the Justice Department and the Texas attorney general's office. The agencies in February announced the largest "coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history," with the arrest of 250 people, which included Sneed. "When criminals steal the hard-earned life savings of older Americans, we will respond with all the tools at the Department's disposal," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said about the raids. The number of Americans ages 65 and older grew to 40 million in 2010, according to a Census Bureau study. More than 12 percent of Texans are elderly.   Continue reading...

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