CLEARFIELD – A West Decatur man accused of impersonating a federal agent and then swindling people out of money waived his right to preliminary hearings in three, different cases before Magisterial District Judge James Hawkins during Centralized Court on Wednesday at the Clearfield County Jail.
In one case, 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. He’s also charged with impersonating a public servant and theft by deception/false impression in two, other cases.
According to the affidavit of probable cause in the first case, 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 alleges.
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 alleges, 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 alleges. 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 allegedly 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 alleges.
Gilbert, the affidavit alleges, 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 allegedly 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 allegedly 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 alleges.
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.
According to the affidavits of probable cause in the other cases, two men allegedly provided Gilbert with money to cover various legal fees, as he claimed to be an FBI agent with the Department of Justice.
On June 9, state police interviewed the first victim who was introduced to Gilbert about a year ago when checking into mineral rights and a dispute over some land. Gilbert was allegedly supposed to file a complaint through the DOJ on his behalf. The victim has allegedly paid Gilbert nearly $6,000 with payments beginning in December of 2012 and the last coming in May. When Gilbert collected the money from the victim, he allegedly showed a handgun but never identified himself with a government badge.
On July 18, the first victim told state police a gentleman introduced him to Gilbert, and he had also allegedly picked up a lot of cash from him. The victim said he’d given Gilbert his bank card and pin number as well, and had never been shown any sort of badge. The victim told police that on July 2, he witnessed Gilbert fire a gun; he also knew of other guns that Gilbert owned.
Another victim was interviewed by state police on June 9. The victim told state police he was going through custody proceedings when he was introduced to Gilbert. At the time, Gilbert allegedly claimed to be a federal agent with the DOJ in North Carolina. Gilbert started to ask him about his custody case and claimed to be here “to deal with the corruption in this town” through the DOJ. Gilbert allegedly told the victim he’d get him custody of his son.
Prior to his custody proceedings, Gilbert visited the victim two to three times on a weekly basis. He also allegedly told the victim his case wouldn’t be heard by Clearfield County Court but by a federal court judge who would be flown in to take down a list “a mile long” of elected officials, members of police and an area attorney. The victim received his legal costs via text message and has allegedly paid Gilbert close to $12,000. He started paying Gilbert in January or February. When collecting the legal fees, the victim said Gilbert wouldn’t allow him to see any identification, just a gun.
On Sept. 11, Gilbert was interviewed by state police at the CCJ. He told police the first victim never gave him $6,000 or $7,000 but might have given him $100 one time when he needed it and asked him. Gilbert claimed that the first victim does whatever the second victim tells him to do.
Further, Gilbert told police the second victim gave him more than $200 and claimed this was the only money that he ever gave him. Gilbert told state police that the victims were “making the money thing up.”
Gilbert claimed he neither posed as a federal agent, nor told anyone he was with the DOJ and could resolve legal matters for them. He also claimed he never showed anyone a gun, saying he doesn’t carry one due to a prior conviction.