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Man Charged With Scamming WW II Vet of $95,000 By Impersonating Phila. DA

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Steve Tawa Steve Tawa
Steve Tawa joined KYW Newsradio in 1990, and splits his time between...
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By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –-   A Philadelphia man was charged today with stealing over $95,000 from an elderly man in the Cobbs Creek section of the city — in part by impersonating district attorney Seth Williams.

The alleged scam began when 47-year-old Shelton Thomas started doing odd jobs in June 2011 for 93-year old Raymond Campbell.

But over a span of three years, according to assistant DA Jan McDermott,  Thomas convinced the elderly victim to make payment after payment for “unauthorized trash dumping” of grass clippings by Thomas.

McDermott says Thomas pretended in phone calls that he was various judges, and even the DA himself, to collect an escalating series of fake fees and fines.

“The defendant would make the call, pretending to be somebody of high importance, and then Mr. Campbell would be more willing to give the money at that point in time,” McDermott said today.

According to detective Margarita Nix, Thomas would then appear at Campbell’s door, saying he was picking up the money for the high-ranking official who had called.

“Within seconds after that phone call, Thomas was at the door, and I arrested him,” Nix said today.

Seth Williams, the real DA, says the alleged scam continued until last week, when Mr. Campbell’s family convinced him to let detectives step in.

“This dirtball, Shelton Thomas, was going to be there to take more money from this man who deserved to live in the twilight of his life as peacefully as possible, without this jerk stealing money from him,” the obviously irked Williams said today.

Williams, who said he recalled having played basketball with Thomas in their youth at the Cobbs Creek recreation center, today said Thomas faces charges that include burglary, theft, and impersonating a public servant.

“I would try this case myself, but for the fact I may be a witness, because the defendant was impersonating me,” the DA added.

It’s believed that Campbell, a WWII vet who has been in the same home for more than 60 years and lives on a “modest” pension from his more than 40 years as a government employee, gave at least $95,000 to Thomas, though officials say the exact amount is “likely much higher.”

Thomas was arrested and arraigned on Friday evening, with bail set at $750,000.  His next court appearance is scheduled for March 7th.

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