A husband and wife team were convicted of scamming a 97-year-old man out of $1.1 million in life savings Thursday, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
While a manager at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Christina Bray befriended the nearly deaf and blind victim and isolated him from other bankers by telling them she was his niece, while covertly stealing his money and spending it on luxuries for herself and her husband.
Pretending to have his best interests at heart - even driving him to appointments - the bank manager secretly withdrew cashier's checks from the victim's account, the District Attorney's Office said.
"The Brays criminally used this vulnerable gentleman as their ATM," according to Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard, who also noted that many "elderly people rely on bankers to carefully watch over their life savings."
With the money stolen from the victim, the couple bought a $95,000 Mercedes Benz, an Escalade, liposuction treatments, Cartier watches and televisions. They also used $30,000 for rent on their San Jose home, the District Attorney's Office said.
During a five-month period, Christina Bray also transferred $718,000 out of the victim's bank account, and into a joint account she set up under her husband and the victim's name at Comerica Bank.
But when Jimmy Bray made a large cash withdrawal out of the account, a Comerica employee notified Adult Protective Services and the victim's real niece called District Attorney's Office.
The DA's Office immediately froze the remaining assets in the account and met with the victim, who said he saw Christina Bray as his "mother" and had no idea she and her husband were stealing from him or that the couple had moved his money to another bank.
The victim said he had never authorized any of the couple's actions. The pair was arrested after arriving at the victim's home while he was being interviewed by a District Attorney's Office investigator.
According to the District Attorney's Office, the couple intended to take the victim to a bank to withdraw the remaining money from his account but were arrested.
Christina Bray and Jimmy Bray pleaded guilty to several counts of felony elder theft, while Jimmy was also convicted of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.
Christina Bray will receive six years in prison while her husband will receive eight.
Following the arrest, vehicles and other assets were seized. After notifying JP Morgan Chase Bank of the crime, the bank immediately credited back to the victim’s account the swindled money. The couple will be ordered to pay the remaining restitution to Chase Bank. The victim has since passed away.
The couple will be sentenced Sept. 4.
—Bay City News Service