Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Carmel on the Case: Elderly Exploitation
Tonight seven news has an exclusive look at what police call a classic case of elderly exploitation. A convicted felon is back behind bars but not before the senior he is accused of abusing --- ended up broke. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is "On the Case."
WSVN -- Not long ago, 82-year-old Teodoro Vega had good credit and money in the bank.
Now his credit is shot and his bank account is empty.
Carmel Cafiero: "What kind of man does this to an elderly person?"
Detective David Colon: "Someone who has no heart and no feelings for anybody else."
Miami-Dade Detective David Colon and his partner Yolanda Lombrage have investigated Vega's case.
They say his problems started when 43-year-old Luis Lacasse contacted Vega after the senior citizen was in a minor accident.
Teodoro Vega "He said he was a lawyer so I thought he was."
Detective Colon translated for Vega.
Lacasse used a business card to convince him he was an attorney and that Vega was going to be sued for the accident.
Teodoro Vega: "And then after that we went to the bank. He insisted on going to the bank to see how much money I had."
Police say Vega wrote Lacasse checks for thousands of dollars for legal fees even though there was no lawsuit and he is no lawyer.
Police say Lacasee used Vega's name to buy not one but two luxury cars, a Mercedes Benz and a Crossfire.
Detective David Colon: "They tried to sell his house so he's lucky that he's still living in this house. And God knows how many other things are out there that I have not been able to find."
Seven news was there shortly after Luis Lacasse was arrested.
Luis Lacasse: "I haven't made a mistake. I don't know what's going on."
Carmel Cafiero: "You're being charged with among other things exploitation of the elderly. You didn't take advantage of this elderly man?"
Luis Lacasse: "No I didn't and I don't have anything to talk about the case."
Lacasse has a record. He did six years in prison in connection with multiple charges including armed burglary and kidnapping.
Now there's a new list of charges; not only those involving Teodoro Vega, but it turns out the department of financial services has also been investigating Lacasse.
It has charged him with patient brokering and unlawful practice.
The state says he has solicited many victims of traffic accidents.
A police radio was discovered in his car when he was arrested.
Detective Yolanda Lombrage: "This is our police radio and this is the radio that he's using."
Luis Lacasse: "I monitor for accidents."
He told me he helped people get medical services for free.
Luis Lacasse: "I refer them for free yes and I have a business, a construction company. Carmel Cafiero: So you do medical referrals out of the goodness of your heart? Yes, yes."
Lacasse will eventually have a chance to try to convince a judge or jury of the "goodness of his heart". Right now he is being held without bond. Teodoro Vega meanwhile says after all this, he has to take medicine to sleep at night.
For more information, or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or In Broward at 954- 921-CLUE