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Matawan Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Elderly Victim of $1 Million

He posed as the victim's nephew, authorities say.

A Matawan man plead guilty to stealing nearly $1 million and the family home of a now-deceased senior citizen diagnosed with dementia and terminal cancer by posing as her nephew, according to Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

James J. Demitro, 43, who used the alias “Anthony Tatalia,” admitted his crimes in front of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Francis J. Vernoia, Pr.J.S.C. pleading guilty Thursday to second degree attempted impersonation, five counts of second degree theft by deception, and two counts of third degree theft by deception, according to a press release issued by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

Demitro admitted that he pretended to be the nephew of a then-87-year-old Red Bank woman with dementia and terminal cancer when he stole just under $1 million and the family home she lived in since 1925 – a home built by her father and grandfather.

Demitro was arrested on Aug. 19, 2011 following a five-month investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Monmouth County Adult Protective Services (APS) related to suspicious real estate, financial and estate planning transactions undertaken by him.

The investigation revealed Demitro obtained nearly $1 million by deception from the victim while posing as her nephew. Demitro also enlisted the services of multiple attorneys to prepare legal instruments to further his scheme to defraud his terminally-ill victim. Demitro admitted he coordinated the preparation of a deed transferring ownership of the victim’s Red Bank home to himself for $1, and the preparation of a Last Will and Testament for the victim naming him as full beneficiary and executor of the estate.

On the day of his arrest, two bank accounts maintained by Demitro containing approximately $600,000 taken from the victim were frozen. Also seized was a luxury Italian sports car, a Ferrari Spyder, that was earlier purchased by Demitro with approximately $150,000 taken from the victim, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

In accordance with a plea agreement, Demitro now faces a custodial sentence of 8 years in New Jersey State Prison with a 3 1⁄2-year period of parole ineligibility. Demitro will also consent to the probate of the victim’s genuine Last Will and Testament from 2005; will consent to the forfeiture of the monies in the frozen bank accounts and the Ferrari Spyder; and execute a deed turning the real estate back over to the victim’s estate. All the forfeiture proceeds will be returned to the victim’s estate.

He is scheduled for sentencing on Friday, June 7, in front of Judge Vernoia.

The case is assigned to Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Andrew S. Fried of the Office’s Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau. Demitro is represented by P.J. Nicola, of Atlantic County.

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