• Women accused of financially exploiting elderly man


    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Three women are facing charges, accused of financially exploiting an 88-year-old man in Volusia County.

    Investigators said the three managed to take more than $150,000 from Angel Martinez.

    Authorities said one of the women, Belgica Rivera, was married to Martinez, but she was apparently part of the scheme.

    Martinez claimed his wife started locking him in this home, beating him and spending his money. When he finally escaped, sheriff's deputies found Martinez walking almost disoriented down a busy road.

    Martinez’s stepson, Michael Cruz, said his stepfather suffers from dementia and didn't know what he was getting himself into when he met Rivera.

    “My papa's by himself, and she's very nice,” said Cruz. “You get to a certain age, and you think she's a beautiful person."

    Rivera drove Martinez to doctor’s appointments and eventually got him to sign over power of attorney before marrying him.

    Investigators said Dianne Wagner and Diana Romero were in on the scheme, as well.

    “This is just awful, what happened to him,” said Gary Davidson of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. “These are individuals who clearly have no conscience."

    According to the Sheriff's Office, Rivera immediately started wiping out Martinez’ bank account, buying a new car.

    Investigators said Rivera then spent $90,000 of the victim's money as a down payment on a house. Even though his name is on the mortgage, Rivera’s name is the only one listed as an owner.

     Police said Rivera rented the new home to her son and moved Martinez into her home, where he claims he was locked up and beaten.

    Romero is accused of taking Martinez’ old car. Wagner is accused of writing checks from the victim's account, notarizing the power of attorney and the wedding.

    While Wagner's sister insists she's innocent, the Sheriff's Office said all three suspects were involved.

    “She did a lot of damage,” said Cruz.

    Rivera and Wagner are each being held on $100,000 bond. Both must show where their bond money is coming from before they're allowed out of jail.

    Romero is being held on $25,000 bond. 

    The Sheriff's Office said much of the money is unaccounted for and will be difficult if not "impossible" to recover, but the house and the new car still have some value.

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