Property Manager for Senior Residential Buildings Pleads Guilty to Financial Exploitation of Two Elderly District Residents

Property Manager for Senior Residential Buildings Pleads Guilty to Financial Exploitation of Two Elderly District Residents

            WASHINGTON – Nicole Freeman Smith, 51, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, pleaded guilty today in Superior Court to one felony count and one misdemeanor count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult or elderly person (FEVA) for stealing more than $133,000 from two elderly District residents suffering from cognitive impairment. The plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, D.C. Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb, and Special Agent in Charge Shawn Rice, of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General.

            According to court documents, Smith, who worked as a property manager at several residential buildings for seniors in Washington, D.C., targeted vulnerable building residents to steal thousands of dollars from their accounts and other sources of income after befriending them and gaining their trust. After unduly influencing one victim to provide Smith with access to her financial account information, Smith stole over $94,000 from the victim’s accounts, and attempted to steal $25,000 more. Smith used the stolen funds to pay for personal expenses, including paying off credit card and utility bills, back taxes, and multiple auto loans. Smith further stole more than $38,000 from a second victim, depositing two of the victim’s personal injury settlement checks in Smith’s bank account and keeping the money for herself.

            The Honorable Lynn Leibovitz accepted Smith’s guilty plea and scheduled sentencing for September 29, 2023. As part of her plea, Smith agreed to pay restitution to the victims and will be prohibited from working or volunteering with elderly or vulnerable adults. 

            This prosecution is part of the Office’s wider efforts to combat crimes against seniors and vulnerable adults. In 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia simultaneously launched initiatives to address the abuse and exploitation of older adults. The Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Initiative at the U.S. Attorney’s Office expanded its response to criminal and civil violations targeting older adults. The initiative has enabled the U.S. Attorney’s Office to develop and coordinate further its prosecution of these cases and enhance its overall support of older or vulnerable victims. The team consists of experienced prosecutors and victim advocates from across the Office, to include the Superior Court, Criminal, and Civil Divisions, as well as the Victim Witness Assistance Unit. This prosecution is indicative of the continued collaboration between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute cases of this kind.

            In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Graves, D.C. Attorney General Schwalb, and Special Agent in Charge Rice commended the work of those who investigated the case from HUD-OIG. They also cited the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin D. Bleiberg, and former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nina Torabzadeh, on detail from the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute financial crimes cases involving elderly victims, who investigated and prosecuted the matter.

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