Convicted thief used power of attorney to steal aunt’s estate

10 September 2012

A Derbyshire second-hand car dealer has been jailed for two years for selling his elderly aunt’s home and embezzling the proceeds while acting as her attorney.

The 92-year-old widow, Betty Harrison of Mickleover, had to move into a care home after she developed dementia in 2006. Her nephew Max Alvey applied for and obtained power of attorney to manage her affairs, even though he already had a criminal record for various offences described as money laundering.

Alvey then sold Mrs Harrison’s house and deposited the GBP120,000 proceeds into her building society account. Soon, using the power of attorney, he began to move it piecemeal into other accounts he controlled.

Alvey’s plundering of the widow’s estate was temporarily interrupted by another spell in prison, this time for possessing stolen property. But his power of attorney remained effective and when he came out he resumed the process of transferring cash from her account into to his own.

During this time, the manager of the care home where Mrs Harrison lived was becoming suspicious, partly because Alvey was reluctant to part with his aunt’s money for either her welfare or for her residential care fees. The Derbyshire Building Society was also becoming concerned about the suspicious transactions. In August 2010 both parties reported the concerns to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

The OPG investigated and duly passed its findings on to the police. By the time Alvey was arrested, he had taken GBP125,000 from his aunt’s account. The police have found no trace of it and assume he has spent it all, though they intend to bring a Proceeds of Crime action against him.

Alvey’s counsel said in mitigation that he would have inherited the money anyway, and only took it early because it would otherwise have been confiscated by his trustee in bankruptcy.





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