GERING, Neb. (AP) – A Scottsbluff man has been charged with felony abuse of a vulnerable adult for stealing more than a quarter of a million dollars from his aunt. 48-year old Barry Neal was arrested last week following a multi-month investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol.
Neal’s 69-year old aunt told investigators she was overwhelmed by the legal aspects when she was named personal representative for her father’s estate after he died in 2017 and that Neal warned her that she would lose all her social security and SNAP food benefits if she received an inheritance.
She then made him the personal representative before ever learning how much the estate was worth or if her father had even left a will. An attorney determined last October that there was no will, making her the sole heir to the estate.
After being made the personal representative, Neal then moved his aunt into an apartment at the Morrill Manor and obtained her Power of Attorney.
She says in court documents that she now has no access to her social security income or SNAP benefits with Neal not allowing her to eat meals at the Manor and bringing her groceries only about once a week. She also said he installed a surveillance camera to check on her at any time.
Investigators obtained a subpoena for the estate’s financial records and discovered there had been nearly $271,000 in April of 2017 but that it was nearly all gone 18 months later with the majority of the money spent on Neal for things ranging from airline tickets and hotels to tattoos and nail salons.
Some $55,000 went to auto dealers and related businesses even though Neal’s aunt didn’t have a car, while an $85,000 cash withdrawal was the same amount Neal paid for a house in Scottsbluff.