ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) – A convicted murderer on parole who bilked an 80-year-old St. George woman out of nearly $300,000 will spend a minimum of 10 years behind bars.
Frank Gene Powell, 51, pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, two counts of destruction of records in a federal investigation, concealment of a document or object in an attempt to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding, and tampering with a witness.
Powell was sentenced Thursday morning in St. George in front of U.S. District Judge David Nuffer to 10 years in federal prison and to pay $273,849.20 in restitution. Additionally, Powell will also forfeit two vehicles and be on supervised release for three years following his release from federal prison.
At the time of the crimes, Powell had only been on parole since 2017 after spending 30-years 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. While incarcerated, Powell was convicted of sexually assaulting an inmate.
Frank Powell admitted he conspired with several others, including his girlfriend, Faye Renteria, 42, of Hurricane, to come up with a plan to steal money from the woman. He also admitted he engaged in a fake romantic relationship with the victim as a part of this plan.
Powell also pleaded guilty to witness tampering after he attempted to stop the victim from communicating with law enforcement officers investigating the case.
“Powell is a career criminal who has fended off decades of rehabilitative attempts in the Utah state criminal justice system. He’s a convicted murderer and sexual predator, who has now turned his criminal efforts to elder fraud while on state parole,” U.S. Attorney for Utah John W. Huber said today. “With these guilty pleas, he stands convicted of unconscionable crimes against a senior member of the St. George community. A 10-year sentence is very appropriate in this case and will help ensure that Utah will not fall victim to his crimes again.”
Eight defendants in all were charged in a 10-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in January.
“This crime is especially heinous because Frank Powell not only deceived and defrauded the victim, he made it a family affair,” said Special Agent in Charge Paul Haertel of the Salt Lake City FBI. “As a society, we should be looking out for the elderly, not exploiting them. Crimes like this will be aggressively investigated, and we encourage the public to immediately report any fraud to law enforcement or the FBI.”
Frank Powell’s mother Gloria Jean Powell, 74, of St. George, was sentenced to time served on May 1, after pleading guilty to one count of concealment of a document or object, admitting she tried to hide the stolen money and she helped her son and her daughter, Angela McDuffie, 53, of Lehi, in the scheme.
Renteria, who is in custody, will be sentenced on July 15 after pleading guilty on May 7. She admitted she engaged in misleading the victim and attempted to stop her from communicating with law enforcement.
She faces up to 20 years for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 10 years for each count of money laundering, 20 years for each count of destruction of records or tangible objects in a federal investigation, and up to 10 years for the witness tampering conviction.
Bubby Mern Shepherd, 58, of Lodi, California, and Rocky James Powell Mott, 40, of Hurricane, both of whom are still in custody, both pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Their plea deal include a stipulated sentence of 21 months in prison.
Cases are pending against McDuffie, Terrence Quincy Powell, 24, of St. George, and Martell Taz Powell, 25, of Cedar City. Trial in those cases are scheduled for September.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah said combating elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority.
A statement issued in a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice reads:
“Elder abuse is a serious crime against some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, affecting at least 10 percent of older Americans every year. Together with federal, state, local and tribal partners, the Department of Justice is committed to combating all forms of elder abuse and financial exploitation through enforcement actions, training and resources, research, victim services, and public awareness. This holistic and robust response demonstrates the Department’s unwavering dedication to fighting for justice for older Americans.”
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: Stopping-Elder-Financial-Abuse
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Utah are prosecuting the case. The FBI is investigating the case. Agents with Utah Adult Probation and Parole have made signification contributions to the investigation.