HARRISBURG – Agents from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Elder Abuse Unit have filed criminal charges against a Fulton County husband and wife accused of financially victimizing family members for their own personal gain.
Acting Attorney General Bill Ryan identified the defendants as William Craig Carnell, age 48, and Melissa “Missi” Ann Carnell, age 50, both of 5809 Pleasant Grove Road, Warfordsburg.
Ryan said that between 2005 and 2008 William and Melissa Carnell served as caregivers for William’s elderly mother, Margaret “Peggy” Carnell, along with William’s brother, John, who is deaf, speech impaired and requires the use of a wheelchair.
“This was a long-running and systematic effort to extract money from family members, rather than provide the care and security they deserved,” Ryan said. “To victimize an older or disabled person is always wrong, but to target loved ones for this kind of financial abuse is reprehensible.”
According to the criminal complaint, William and Melissa engaged in a conspiracy to misdirect and misuse funds that were intended to care for Peggy and John Carnell including, the use of Peggy’s home and surrounding land to secure a mortgage, which generated $110,000 in proceeds allegedly used by William and Melissa for personal expenses; opening credit card accounts in Peggy’s name, unknown to her, which were used to generate approximately $55,000 in charges; unauthorized withdrawals from Peggy’s savings account totaling $28,456; the use of $14,940 in proceeds from a certificate of deposit owned by Peggy; and the diversion of $19,952 in Social Security disability checks intended for John.
Ryan said the alleged thefts were discovered after Peggy Carnell suffered a stroke in 2008. Family members who had attempted to check on her health were allegedly turned away by William Carnell, though an ambulance was eventually called and Peggy was hospitalized.
Following that incident other family members began examining financial records and contacted authorities after discovering what they believed were inappropriate transactions. The criminal case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by Fulton County District Attorney Travis L. Kendall.
William Craig Carnell is charged with two counts of theft by unlawful taking and one count of criminal conspiracy, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Melissa Ann Carnell is charged with two counts of theft by unlawful taking, one count of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and one count of criminal conspiracy, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Both defendants were preliminarily arraigned on March 29th before McConnellsburg Magisterial District Judge Wendy Richards Mellott and released. The defendants have both waived their preliminary hearings.
Formal arraignments will be scheduled in the future in Fulton County Court of Common Pleas.
The defendants will be prosecuted in Fulton County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony W. Forray of the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Section.
Ryan thanked the Huntingdon-Bedford-Fulton Area Agency on Aging for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.