Lakeland, Florida -- A tip to police from Bank of America regarding concerns about the possible exploitation of an elderly client led detectives to two men Tuesday.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office began their investigation May of last year when a detective went to the 88-year-old woman's home in Lakeland and determined she was displaying early signs of dementia and lived alone.
The detective then made sure she had a professional guardian to become legally responsible for her finances. She now receives around the clock home care and has been declared legally incapacitated.
During their investigation into the bank's concerns, detectives learned that both 34-year-old Hamilton "James" Watson and his father, 58-year-old Hamilton "John" Watson, took advantage of the woman's declining health and swindled large sums of money and a vehicle from her.
Both father and son reside in the 3700 block of Old Tampa Highway with Jennie Watson, who is the mother and wife of the two men.
Detectives learned the exploitation began sometime in April when the two men met the woman and told her of work they could do around her home.
Throughout April 2012, several checks were written on the woman's account to "Sunny Florida Painting," with notations regarding "roof work" and "renovations", however, neither man is licensed as a roof or construction employer or contractor.
Over a 12-day period, detectives say the men had a total amount of $120,000 written to them. The men also got two more checks that "James" was unable to cash totaling over $93,000. The total amount the men took or attempted to take was over $210,000.
"John" Watson was arrested Tuesday and charged with Exploitation of an Elderly or Disabled Person, Scheme to Defraud, and Theft from a Person 65 Years of Age or Older.
Detectives are still looking for "James" Watson and have information that suggests he may be in Arizona at this time.
Anyone with information on James' whereabouts is urged to contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 863-298-6200.
Polk County Sheriff's Office