A Lindenwold man was indicted last week on several counts of theft and forgery that accused him of stealing around $ 125,000 from an elderly man he was caring for.
Deron Stephens, 42, is said to have cashed in the victim’s life insurance policies and had a joint bank account with the victim that he was using to prosecute his alleged crimes, including forging the victim’s signature to gain access to d ‘other funds, Waterford police said.
Stephens identifies himself as a pastor on social media, sometimes using the name Nnug Thanation, and refers to a congregation called New Nation Under God on Dickerson Street in Woodbury, according to the listings and the victim’s relative, who spoke to NJ Advance Media.
NJ Advance Media does not identify the parent, so the victim will not be identified.
Attempts to reach Stephens were unsuccessful.
The parent, who reported the allegations to law enforcement, said Stephens had been the victim’s caregiver for about three years, an arrangement which began through a legitimate caregiver service.
When the victim, who is around 80, contacted Stephens about two years ago, he was no longer in the service but started helping the victim with money, the parent said.
Stephens opened up about his religious life, and while the victim was not interested in it, he felt Stephens was trustworthy because of his portrayals.
The victim was living alone in a motel at the time and her pension and Social Security payments were deposited into the joint account with Stephens, the person said. Examining the parent’s finances has been troublesome recently, with money missing, questionable checks written for expenses the victim didn’t make and life insurance policies wound up, the person said.
A Waterford Police detective investigated and corroborated several alleged forgeries of the victim’s name on checks, many of which were made out in cash, and allegedly discovered that Stephens had changed the mailing address of a life insurance policy from the victim’s residence to his own.
In one instance, as a result of deposits of $ 79,093 of life insurance money into the account, four checks were issued in cash by Stephens for a total of $ 76,449, the police wrote in an affidavit from probable cause in the case.
The Waterford detective also extracted footage from the bank’s surveillance camera showing Stephens in the passage as two checks were cashed, totaling more than $ 49,000, authorities said.
The victim told police he did not allow Stephens access to his life insurance policies.
In another case, the victim told police he had about $ 44,000 of inheritance in a savings account, and Stephens told him he could put it in another branch of the same bank, the authorities said. The parent said Stephens claims it was or “keep it safe”.
The victim withdrew the money, in cash, and allegedly gave it to Stephens. “To date, the money has not been found,” police wrote in the affidavit.
During the investigation, the victim’s relative recorded a conversation with Stephens, in which he denied having access to the victim’s accounts, police said in the affidavit.
The parent reached out to NJ Advance Media to publicize the case to alert others who may be in a similar situation, the person said. The parent is currently fixing the victim’s finances.
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Kevin Shea can be reached at [email protected].