Highlands Deputies: Trio charged with exploiting elderly veteran

Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 22, 2017

Three people have been charged with forging checks belonging to an elderly veteran, officials said. 

The victim was identified as being the grandfather of one of the suspects, 23-year-old Joseph Ryan Binger of Sebring, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office said.

However, the name of the victim, who is 84 and lives in an assisted living facility, was not released. 

Highlands County sheriff's Detective Steven Ritenour was notified of the suspected fraudulent checks on Feb. 16, according to a sheriff's office report. The detective was given a stack of checks the victim told authorities he had not signed or authorized to be signed by anyone else.

Some checks had been made out to Binger, while several others had been written to Rebekah Danielle Smith, 17, and Mariesa Turner, 19, both of Sebring.

Ritenour's investigation turned up seven checks bearing the victim's name that were not legitimate, the sheriff's report said.

Binger's grandfather told deputies he had written three to four checks to his grandson in the past, however, none of the checks made out to Turner were written by him.

Turner told the detective the victim wrote checks to Binger to help with a car payment, the report said. Sheriff's officials determined the claim did not match the frequency of the checks written days a part. Turner also told authorities the other checks were to pay other bills. 

Binger and Turner were arrested Tuesday. Smith had been taken into custody Monday.

Binger and Turner were charged with three counts of uttering a forged check, three counts of fradulently using the identification of a veteran and felony larceny from a person over age 65.

Smith was arrested on one charge of felony larceny from a person over age 65 and one count of uttering a false check.