Man Suspected of Stealing $800,000 From Elderly Client

Joseph Anthony Florendo Mele

Earlier this month, Santa Barbara police arrested Ventura resident Joseph Mele for allegedly stealing around $800,000 from a 93-year-old client. For several months beginning in late 2013, Mele, 30, took blank, pre-signed checks from the victim with the promise that he was going to use them to make investments on her behalf, police said. Instead, he allegedly used the money on entertainment, gambling, and travel. The victim’s bank, Montecito Bank & Trust, had detected suspicious activity in the victim’s account and notified Santa Barbara County Adult Protective Services, which then contacted police. Mele was booked in jail on charges of grand theft and financial elder abuse.


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