8 family members indicted for extorting nearly $300,000 from elderly woman in Utah

Southern Utah

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Eight members of the same family were indicted in federal court for a fraud ring that took nearly $300,000 from an elderly woman in St. George.

The indictment names Frank Gene Powell, 51, Gloria Jean Powell, 74, Faye Anne Renteria, 42, Terrence Quincy Powell, 24, Rocky James Powell Mott, 40, Martel Taz Powell, 25, Bubby Mern Shepherd, 58, and Angela McDuffie, 53, as defendants who all played some part in the wire fraud and money laundering of an 80-year-old woman.

Police said the main suspects, Frank Powell, Bubby Shepherd, Gloria Powell, Faye Renteria, Terrence Powell, Rocky Mott, and Martel Powell received thousands of dollars from the victim by promising to perform work on her property.

Documents state Bubby Shepherd initially made contact with the woman in March 2019 and solicited money from her by offering to perform repairs and odd jobs.

During that same month, all five main suspects said they would complete the repairs the woman had listed for them such as painting the exterior of her home, resurfacing the driveway, doing yard work, removing grease spots on her driveway and installing carpet on an outdoor deck.

Detectives said the suspects often demanded upfront payments but then never completed the work for which they had been paid.

“Despite the incomplete and shoddily done work, Frank, Bubby, Terrence, Rocky, and Taz obtained $273,849.20, both directly and indirectly from (victim),” as stated in the indictment.

Detectives said to further advance the scheme Frank Powell, engaged in romance fraud by convincing the woman he loved her and intended to marry her. He was able to entice the woman into a romantic relationship and persuaded her to give him money and assets, according to documents.

Documents state Frank Powell had no intention of marrying the woman as during the entire scheme he was in a committed relationship with Renteria and legally married to another woman not involved in the conspiracy.

Renteria is listed in the documents as being fully aware of the scheme and agreed Frank Powell could marry the elderly woman if it helped further their plans. On multiple occasions, detectives said Renteria drove him to her house and also received money from him that came from the victim.

The scheme unraveled after a family member of the woman discovered the fraud while trying to help her reconcile her bank statements and noticed the discrepancies.

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

Frank Powell, Gloria Powell, Martell Powell and Renteria were additionally charged with five counts of money laundering.

Frank Powell and Renteria were charged with two counts destruction of records in a federal investigation after they knowingly destroyed both of their cell phones after finding out about the investigation. They were also both charged with tampering with a witness after they contacted the victim during the investigation and tried to persuade her to help them to avoid prosecution, according to documents.

Frank Powell, Gloria Powell, and Angela McDuffie were charged with one count concealment of a document or object for intentionally destroying U.S. currency received during the commission of the conspiracy while they were aware of the official FBI investigation.

Frank Powell was released from prison in 2017 after spending most of his adult life behind bars for the 1987 murder of 20-year-old Glen Candland who Powell ran over with his truck after an argument at a party.

During his second trial on the murder case, Powell sexually assaulted an inmate and was given one-to-15 years for two counts of forcible sodomy in addition to his five-years to life sentence for Candland’s death.

For tips on how to prevent Elder Financial Abuse, the Department of Justice has created a prevention awareness campaign with valuable information. You can view that document below:

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