CLEARFIELD – A West Decatur man accused of impersonating a federal agent and taking money from an elderly couple had his preliminary hearing continued by Magisterial District Judge Richard Ireland during Centralized Court on Wednesday at the Clearfield County Jail.
Richard Allen Gilbert, 47, of West Decatur has been charged with impersonating a public servant; theft by unlawful taking; theft by deception/false impression; possession of firearms prohibited; disorderly conduct; and driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked. His preliminary hearing has been re-scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Oct. 2 at the CCJ.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Aug. 29, a representative with the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging (CCAAA) contacted Lawrence Township police. When police returned the call the officer spoke with a different representative who related a woman had called them to report being the victim of a scam.
The CCAAA provided police with a fax that detailed the report. The woman reported becoming afraid of Gilbert after a home visit during which he stated he was from “law enforcement” and able to “take care of things and make things go away,” the affidavit states.
Gilbert had access to the woman’s and her husband’s’ social security numbers, as well as to their pension and retirement information. The woman reported she’d given $538 in cash to Gilbert for “charges” in reference to a civil custody issue. She also reported her husband had given Gilbert $800 for a truck that was promised but then never received.
Police, the affidavit states, are “very familiar” with Gilbert due to an investigation into another ongoing incident and involving his activities that was taken on July 3. Through investigation police found that Gilbert had been presenting himself as a federal agent with references to the FBI and telling victims he was “sent by Washington” to assist them with their legal issues. Several victims have reported incidents in the West Decatur, Mineral Springs and the Glen Richey areas, the affidavit states. Also, through investigation police found Gilbert displayed a firearm on every occasion and advised victims he was armed.
In this case, police contacted the woman on Aug. 31, and she provided a verbal statement. She told police she met Gilbert through a friend. Gilbert, who she said goes by “Rick,” introduced himself as a federal agent from the government. He told her that he could help with the family’s custody issues and promised “his pull in the federal government” would sway the result of a court hearing in their favor.
Gilbert allegedly told the woman he would need money for fees for filing paperwork. She gave him $538 in cash. After that he promised she and her husband would be getting the children back and wouldn’t any longer have to attend court proceedings. In turn, this made the couple unprepared for court proceedings on Aug. 28, the affidavit states.
Gilbert, the affidavit states, also advised he could use his position in the government to assist in getting pension problems fixed. Because the woman’s husband only received partial payment through his pension, Gilbert promised to get paperwork and to use his “connections” to get it fixed.
Police also interviewed the woman’s husband who related he’d given $800 to Gilbert for a used truck. However, the man never received the truck. Gilbert had also told the couple they would not have to complete any paperwork for the vehicle that he could handle it all for them. The woman said Gilbert advised them he was armed with a handgun but indicated it was in his truck.
While interviewing the couple, another man stopped by the residence and provided a statement to police. He explained his truck had broken down at the Sheetz store on Front Street in Clearfield. Gilbert assisted him with towing his truck. The man observed Gilbert openly carrying a pistol on his hip and was able to describe it to police.
The Lawrence Township police have been investigating Gilbert in conjunction with the state police at Clearfield since June 1. Police have received several complaints about Gilbert within the township’s jurisdiction. Further, Gilbert was convicted of obtaining a controlled substance by doctor shopping, a felony offense, by the Lee County Superior Court in Sanford, NC. This would forbid Gilbert from legally carrying or having a firearm in Pennsylvania, the affidavit states.
On June 30, police had contact with the foster parents of Gilbert’s children. The foster parents told police they had observed Gilbert remove a firearm from the rear of his vehicle at the Auto Zone parking lot and place it there again after exercising control of it.
In this case, the woman told police she and her husband were so hopeful of getting the custody of the children that they allowed themselves to become blinded by Gilbert’s “federal pull.” As early as July 3, police had confirmed Gilbert wasn’t a federal agent by calling the FBI office in Pittsburgh.