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Friday, April 22, 2011

Ex-Chicago cop convicted of swindling elderly man with Alzheimer's - April 21 2011 Chicago Tribune

Ex-Chicago cop convicted of swindling elderly man - Chicago Tribune
April 21, 2011|By Jeremy Gorner, Tribune reporter

A former veteran Chicago police officer was convicted Thursday of swindling an elderly man with Alzheimer's disease out of his $1 million estate more than 10 years ago, authorities said.

Donald Owsley, 63, was found guilty of financial exploitation of the elderly and forgery following a weeklong bench trial before Cook County Criminal Court Judge Timothy Joyce. The judge acquitted him of official misconduct.

Owsley, a veteran of more than 30 years with the department, faces a sentence ranging from probation to 15 years in prison, said a state's attorney's office spokesman.

Authorities alleged that in 1999 Owsley met Theodore Hoellen, then in his 80s, after a neighbor contacted police with concerns about Hoellen's mental state. Hoellen is now deceased.

Authorities contended that over time Owsley persuaded Hoellen to sign over his Northwest Side residence as well as investment accounts worth a combined $1 million.

Owsley was charged criminally in late 2004 hours after a Cook County judge, ruling in a civil lawsuit filed by the Cook County public guardian's office, found that the officer had swindled Hoellen out of his estate.

The public guardian alleged at the time that Owsley attempted the same scheme on three other elderly victims, but he was charged criminally in only the Hoellen case.

In an email, Hoellen's nephew John Hoellen said the family was pleased that Owsley was finally "being held accountable for his abuse of the public trust."

"This could have been anyone's elderly relative," he said.

Attorney Jed Stone, who defended Owsley at the bench trial, insisted his client and Hoellen had a special father-son relationship and that Hoellen had told others he didn't want his family to share in his inheritance.

Owsley resigned from the department after he was criminally charged in 2004.

Tribune reporter Jason Meisner contributed.

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