NORTHEAST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The attorney in the civil case of an elderly Northeast Miami-Dade couple allegedly conned out of thousands of dollars by a pastor from their church said the suspect stole the victims’ pension funds for years.
Former pastor Yvonne Hampton-Barley is accused of preying on the elderly.
Attorney Ralph Ventura, who is representing the family of the elderly couple who were allegedly swindled out of more than $18,000, spoke with 7News on Saturday.
“[The suspect] essentially orchestrated a scheme to defraud,” said attorney Ralph Ventura. “It was incredibly shocking and hurtful that somebody who befriended [my clients] and held herself out as a pastor, of all things, could conceivably, allegedly do, commit these crimes.”
Instead of tending to her flock, the 63-year-old is accused of defrauding them.
“I believe that she had, over the course of many years, diverted pension funds from one account into her own personal accounts,” said Ventura. “It was never a huge amount; it was like $500 here and $800 there, but it was all in cash.”
Ventura isn’t involved in the criminal case, but the family did pursue civil action against Hampton-Barley after she added herself to the deed of the couple’s townhome.
Ventura said the suspect then apparently started to slowly bleed their bank accounts dry after gaining access to them.
Miami-Dade Police detective Angel Rodriguez addressed the matter in a news conference held Friday.
“When a member of the community that is elderly is exploited, we take these crimes very, very seriously,” he said.
The allegations span years. Police arrested the so-called woman of faith at her Miami Gardens home on Wednesday.
“There was an element of trust. There was a relationship established, and so, this is what makes this crime so disheartening,” said Rodriguez.
Ventura indicated this case is a sad reminder for those with aging family members to always be vigilant.
“This is the fear that every middle-aged adult has when they have older parents,” he said.
The family of the elderly couple settled the civil case last year.
Hampton-Barley has since been released on bond and is scheduled to appear in court sometime in mid-January.
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