Please reference CCSO Case # 13-19937
An insurance agent acted as a Good Samaritan earlier this year -- and interrupted a devastating case of financial elder abuse and identity theft, in which a suspect was allegedly draining an elderly Sandy woman's bank account. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public's help to find the person of interest in the case.
A GOOD SAMARITAN INTERRUPTS A LIKELY FRAUD
In June 2013, insurance agent Cody Giusto, 27, of Sandy, decided to act.
Giusto's neighbor Viola Wharton, a 79-year-old widow, had taken in her ex-daughter-in-law Jacki Lynn Newman, age 47. Newman had been living in Wharton's home for approximately six months. And Mr. Giusto was beginning to suspect that something was amiss.
In addition to being her neighbor, Cody Giusto is Viola Wharton's insurance agent. And he had been notified that Viola Wharton had not paid her home insurance, and that her policy had been cancelled.
Giusto reportedly made multiple attempts to contact Wharton about this matter, on the phone and in person. He later told deputies that during each attempt at contact, Jacki Lynn Newman would make an excuse that Viola Wharton was not available -- that she was sleeping or not feeling well, for example.
On June 24, Giusto became concerned enough to take more direct action.
He paid another visit to Wharton's home, pushed past Newman when she answered the door, and demanded to talk to Viola Wharton.
Giusto finally spoke to Wharton in person -- and a troubling situation was revealed.
Viola Wharton had no knowledge of the cancelled home policy. She believed she had plenty of money in her account to restore the policy, and even gave Giusto a voided check so he could draft her account and make things right.
Half an hour later, Giusto informed Wharton that her bank account had been almost totally drained.
Wharton's car had also been repossessed in April. The car payments, like the home policy, had been paid using auto-deductions from Wharton's bank account. Wharton had not been aware of letters or calls regarding non-payment in either situation.
Giusto continued to help.
He set up an appointment at Viola's bank and gave her a ride there, as her car had been repossessed. An investigation revealed multiple ATM withdrawls and what Newman later described to detectives as the "wiping out" of her checking and savings accounts. Access had also been gained to a reverse mortgage line of credit.
Viola Wharton then contacted the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office to report identity theft and financial elder abuse. She believes Jacki Lynn Newman drained her bank accounts and hid the information from her.
Sheriff's Office detectives began to investigate. Multiple unauthorized online purchases were found to have helped drain Wharton's accounts. Wharton had also noticed that she had been getting less mail, that cash would disappear from her purse and dresser, and that Newman would tell her her home phone was out of service during business hours on weekdays, and would unplug it from the wall. Financial paperwork had also gone missing, her credit card had been overdrawn and turned off, and all the money in her late husband's death-benefit account had also been drained.
Viola Wharton told detective that Jacki Lynn Newman was unemployed and living with her -- and had access to Wharton's debit card and PIN number -- during this devastating alleged financial fraud.
Adult Protective Services (APS) paid a visit to Viola Wharton and Jacki Newman. Newman was asked to leave the home, and APS helped Wharton obtain a restraining order. Viola Wharton was set up with Meals On Wheels and transportation assistance.
Good Samaritan Cody Giusto and fraud victim Viola Wharton are available for interviews. Giusto will talk on-camera; Wharton will only talk on the phone. Contact PIO Lt. Robert Wurpes to arrange interviews.
TIPS SOUGHT; JACKI LYNN NEWMAN WANTED FOR QUESTIONING
Sheriff's Office detectives want to question Jacki Lynn Newman about the draining of Viola Wharton's bank account. Suspect Jacki Newman is a 47-year-old white female who stands 5'3" and weighs 120 pounds.
If you have seen Jacki Lynn Newman or know of her whereabouts, please contact the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. Anyone with information is urged to contact Det. Christie Fryett at 503-785-5126.
Citizens can also use our confidential Tip Line -- by phone at 503-723-4949 or by using the online e-mail form. Please reference CCSO Case # 13-19937.
The public can also submit crime-tip text messages to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office from a cell phone. All users have to do is send a text message to CRIMES (274637 on your phone keypad) -- with the keyword CCSO as the first word in the message body. Important reminder: Please do not send emergency messages using the text-messaging system -- in case of an emergency, call 911.
To learn more about financial elder abuse, click here.
Please reference CCSO Case # 13-19937
Robert Wurpes, Lieutenant
Office of Public Information
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office