HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - Police have arrested a man accused of helping his mother swindle an elderly family member out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the suspect’s mother remains on the run and, according to police, out of the country.
Italo Nelli, 19, stands accused of forging documents to help his mother steal from his great uncle. Ana Castellanos said Manuel Gerardo Toledo, her 93-year-old uncle, who lives in an assisted living facility in Hialeah, called her, saying he was worried about his other niece.
“He called me for help,” she said. “He felt that there was something wrong because he would not get any callbacks from his other niece.”
The 93-year-old contracted COVID-19 last summer while he was recovering for several months at a rehabilitation facility. Police said that’s when a distant relative swooped in with Nelli, her son, and swindled him out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, including his home, car and bank accounts.
According to police, the woman “had changed her name from Hadee Hidalgo Pena to Hadee Toledo in an attempt to conceal her true identity and reflect the victim’s last name and appear as the victim’s daughter or close relative.”
“He had been taken advantage of, and all records of his were falsified by his other niece,” Castellanos said.
The documents were allegedly used to sell and steal everything from under the elderly man. One of the forged forms was “a do not resuscitate, which he did not consent to,” police wrote in the report.
Police pinpointed Nelli and his mother and arrested the 19-year-old in connection to the incident, but his mother remains on the run.
“Which shows you the callousness — there is no humanity in this particular person to be able to do that in my mind,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
Nelli’s arrest is the second time this week a person has been arrested for allegedly exploiting the elderly in Hialeah.
A Hialeah caretaker stands accused of duping an elderly couple out of thousands of dollars, and investigators fear there may be more victims.
“We trusted her because, like I told you, she was very good with us,” victim Herminia Jimenez said through a translator. “She treated us very good. She brought us food and everything.”
Fernandez Rundle added elderly exploitation cases have increased recently.
“We have been seeing an increase in elderly exploitation and abuse cases, but today, recently, this one case really strikes at the heart of everyone,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Castellanos hopes the 19-year-old’s mother will surrender to authorities.
“She should come over here and face what she did and not have her son alone here taking all the blame,” she said. “He’s a 19-year-old kid that got manipulated by his mother.”
Nelli told investigators that his mother left for Spain when she found out she was under investigation. He added he does not believe she will return to the U.S.
Castellanos said she is sharing what happened to her uncle because she hopes anyone else who has an elderly family member will keep an eye on them to make sure this does not happen to them.
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.