Carlisle James Devonish was arrested Monday on felony charges of theft by taking and exploitation of an elderly or incapacitated adult. He remains in Cobb County Jail on $350,000 bond. No attorney is listed on jail records.
“It appears that this started several years ago, but the victim was just now discovering it,” Sheriff’s Col. Milton Beck said.
Sheriff’s officials say Devonish, 34, had power of attorney over his mother’s affairs and depleted her savings of more than $227,000 for his own use. He also took advance withdrawals from her retirement saving accounts, incurring Internal Revenue Service penalties, and cashed checks worth $12,000 that were made payable to his mother, they said.
Devonish concealed the thefts by having the victim’s financial records sent directly to him, deputies said. The total loss to the victim was $240,661.80.
Devonish’s mother is in her 70s, and came with another relative to the Sheriff’s Office several months ago, Beck said.
“Unfortunately, it appears we are seeing an increase in financial crimes committed against elderly adults,” Beck said. “Some of these cases involve trusted friends and family taking advantage of their relationships with the victim.
“Normally it takes a third party that becomes suspicious of sudden lifestyle changes, such as quickly initiated relationships with others, people moving in with the victim, having someone who pays the bills and having access to the victim’s credit and bank accounts,” he said. “Also, the suspect may try and isolate the victim from the rest of the family.”
Sheriff’s Fraud Unit investigators can be reached at (770) 499-4652.
Vic Reynolds, who will become District Attorney of the Cobb Circuit on Jan. 1, said he intends to give special attention to crimes against the elderly. Reynolds won the July 31 primary to succeed Pat Head, who is retiring, and has no opposition on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“We’ll certainly be concerned with any crime that occurs in our jurisdiction,” Reynolds said. “But based on studies I’ve seen and read, that demographic age group is more at risk of being victimized. They’re more trusting and tend to be easier to take advantage of. They’re not quick to tell somebody no.”
Reynolds said he intends to prosecute crimes against the elderly the same way prosecutors already handle crimes against children: With specially-trained prosecutors assigned to those particular cases, regardless of courtroom.
“We’re going to be extremely aggressive and extremely tough on crimes whenever a child or an elderly person is the victim,” Reynolds said. “As our population has grown, particularly in the last few years, we’ve seen more crimes against the elderly. A lot of that may be triggered by the economy, particularly financial crimes. We need to be on the front end of that curve. I’m confident if Pat were staying four more years, he’d do the same thing.”