Northeast pair indicted in home security scam


A Pennsylvania grand jury on Monday in­dicted two North­east res­id­ents among four men, al­leging that they em­ployed an in-home be­ne­fits scam to steal more than $700,000 from hun­dreds of seni­or cit­izens across Pennsylvania and bey­ond.

At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Linda Kelly an­nounced felony charges against Bruce Howard Cherry, 52, of the 10100 block of Dedaker Drive in Somer­ton; Robert P. Lern­er, 56, of the 900 block of Emer­son St. in Fox Chase; and two code­fend­ants.

In­vest­ig­at­ors iden­ti­fied 218 vic­tims from 41 Pennsylvania counties, New York, New Jer­sey and Mary­land. In­di­vidu­al vic­tims were de­ceived in­to spend­ing thou­sands of dol­lars for “home care” or “home se­cur­ity” ser­vices that pur­portedly would as­sist them in their on­go­ing per­son­al care.

The de­fend­ants al­legedly col­lec­ted pay­ments from vic­tims but de­livered little of the ser­vices prom­ised.

Ross M. Ra­below, 52, of Southamp­ton, Bucks County, and Thomas J. Mul­doon, 57, of Broomall, Delaware County, also are charged in the case.

“This was a dis­turb­ing and despic­able scheme de­signed to ex­tract as much money as pos­sible from un­wit­ting seni­ors who be­lieved they were pro­tect­ing them­selves against costly fu­ture home-care ex­penses,” Kelly said.

All four de­fend­ants have been ar­res­ted. The pro­sec­utor did not re­lease de­tails of the ar­rests or the de­fend­ants’ cus­tody status. A tri­al date has not been set.

Many vic­tims were wid­owed, liv­ing alone and without nearby fam­ily, Kelly said. Their av­er­age age was about 83 years old. Agents from the at­tor­ney gen­er­al’s In­sur­ance Fraud Sec­tion and Eld­er Ab­use Unit called the in­vest­ig­a­tion “Op­er­a­tion False Com­fort.”

Ra­below al­legedly owned a busi­ness, Amer­ic­an Com­fort Home Care Ser­vices, and em­ployed Cherry as its primary sales­man. The busi­ness claimed to provide non-med­ic­al home care to the eld­erly.

Mul­doon al­legedly op­er­ated Glob­al Ser­vices, a busi­ness that pur­portedly provided home safety equip­ment and “health ad­vocacy” ser­vices to seni­ors. Lern­er al­legedly rep­res­en­ted Glob­al in its deal­ings with vic­tims.

Cherry al­legedly iden­ti­fied him­self as pro­pri­et­or of Cherry Seni­or Solu­tions, a busi­ness that sup­posedly provided “ex­pert” coun­sel­ing to seni­ors re­gard­ing long-term health­care and oth­er in­sur­ance-re­lated needs.

The de­fend­ants of­ten worked as a team and shared in­form­a­tion about vic­tims, ac­cord­ing to the pro­sec­utor.

Vic­tims typ­ic­ally were charged $1,590 in ad­vance per 1,000 hours of in-home ser­vices. Also, de­fend­ants al­legedly col­lec­ted le­git­im­ate health in­sur­ance premi­um pay­ments from vic­tims, but failed to re­mit those pay­ments to the in­sur­ance car­ri­ers. In­stead, the de­fend­ants pock­eted the money.

Cherry, Mul­doon and Lern­er al­legedly stole blank checks from at least one vic­tim. Nine of the checks were later forged and cashed with the pay­ments go­ing dir­ectly to those three de­fend­ants.

Cherry, Ra­below and Mul­doon each are charged with par­ti­cip­at­ing in a cor­rupt or­gan­iz­a­tion and con­spir­acy, along with 218 counts each of deal­ing in pro­ceeds of un­law­ful activ­ity, theft by de­cep­tion, in­sur­ance fraud and de­cept­ive busi­ness prac­tices.

Lern­er is charged with three counts each of theft by de­cep­tion and in­sur­ance fraud, along with fail­ure to make re­quired dis­pos­i­tion of funds, con­spir­acy, for­gery and theft by re­ceiv­ing stolen prop­erty. ••


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