TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced the conviction of a Pensacola man for exploiting and fraudulently using the personal identification information of a legally blind elderly victim. After deliberating for nine hours, the jury found John Louis Wages, 45, guilty as charged on both counts.
After receiving a copy of an anonymous report from the Florida Department of Children and Families Elder Abuse hotline, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit initiated an investigation into the accusations. According to the report, Wages used an elderly victim’s money and credit card without consent of the victim while under Wages care.
The elderly victim, deemed legally blind and suffering from hearing loss, moved into Wages’ home for assistance with daily activities and finances. The MFCU investigation uncovered more than $20,000 of funds that had been misappropriated from a joint checking account that the defendant opened with the victim shortly after moving the victim into his home. Wages also used a Target credit card issued in the victim’s name to purchase more than $1,000 worth of Christmas presents for Wages’ children without the victim’s consent.
The jury found Wages guilty of one count of illegal use of criminal identification information, victim over 60 years of age, and exploitation of the elderly, $10,000 or more but less than $50,000, both second degree felonies. The sentencing is set for Feb. 15, 2018, with Wages facing 30 years in state prison. Wages qualifies to be sentenced as a habitual felony offender due to extensive prior criminal history and an active probationary status.
Assistant Attorney General Christi Hankins, cross sworn as a Special Prosecutor with William “Bill” Eddins’ Office of the State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit, prosecuted the case.