Police: Murderer who spent 29 years in prison ringleader of extorting elderly in Utah

Southern Utah

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) – After reports of an elderly woman being extorted, police discovered a fraud ring whose leader had spent nearly 30 years in prison for murder, according to St. George News.

Frank Gene Powell, 50, is a primary suspect in several cases involving the elderly, including one 80-year-old woman police say Powell was engaged to.

Police discovered that the woman had been taken advantage of by several individuals who had received thousands of dollars from the victim.

A family member of the woman discovered the fraud while trying to help her reconcile her bank statements and noticed the discrepancies.

Frank Powell, who authorities said was engaged to the woman, is also married and living with his wife in Washington County, documents state.

The woman had recently signed over the family’s cabin to Frank Powell and gave him nearly $150,000.

During an interview with police, the woman told them she hired Powell and his “friends” to do some work around her home after they showed up at her door and pointed out problem areas around the outside of her house that needed fixing.

Several of the small jobs were never completed or the quality of work ”was extremely poor,” documents state.

All of the suspects were paid thousands of dollars in cash to do meaningless jobs around the house, including $15,000 she gave Powell, which he told police she insisted on paying him, documents further stated.

The victim appeared to law enforcement to be very confused and said none of the work was completed and caused her home more damage.

Others charged in connection to the case are Martell “Taz” Powell, 23, of Cedar City, Terrance Powell, 23, of St. George, Faye Renteria, 41, of St. George and Rocky James Mott, 40, of Hurricane.

Police say Renteria wrote and cashed over $170,000 in checks from the victim’s account to pay herself, money she claims she then gave to Frank Powell.

Frank Powell has multiple convictions for theft by deception and other fraud-related charges, even prior to his prison time. He was released from prison in 2017 for first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault on an inmate.

Mott was convicted of third-degree felony unlawful sexual activity with a minor and was released from prison in 2008.

Martell Powel has no prior criminal history in Utah.

Frank Powell has not yet been arrested and charges are still pending in his case.

You can read the full story on Stgeorgeutah.com.

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