Pastor David DeFor allegedly swindled $40,000 from elderly woman with dementia

David DeFor
David DeFor
KAAL screengrab

David DeFor, a pastor at Austin Church of Christ, is charged with four felony counts of financially exploiting a vulnerable adult for allegedly swindling more than $40,000 from an 82-year-old woman who has dementia.

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DeFor, 69, befriended the woman years ago. In 2010, after she was diagnosed with dementia, he assumed power of attorney for her. This spring, some of the woman's family members became suspicious of DeFor and expressed their concerns to authorities. Police interviewed the woman last month and what she said, along with an analysis of financial records, led to DeFor's arrest.

Here, via the Rochester Post Bulletin, is a partial laundry list of the shady transactions authorities discovered:

-- DeFor's Austin Church of Christ received about $15,090 in donations from the woman, who had been a deacon at Christ Episcopalian Church in Austin prior to her dementia, the complaint said.

-- DeFor and his wife received about $11,000 from the woman, including a check for $5,000 that DeFor used to replace the furnace at his home in February 2013. According to the complaint, DeFor told investigators that a $2,000 check written by the woman in December 2011 was something she wanted to give it to him and a $3,000 bank transfer in March 2013 into his personal account was to fund a bowling trip to Nevada as a reward for his care.

-- According to the complaint, the woman's bank account shows $21,425 in cash withdrawals during the 35 months DeFor held power of attorney, though friends claim she always paid for items with a debit card.

-- The woman paid $2,400 to live at a group home associated with DeFor's church, while simultaneously paying $6,580 in rent at the Village Cooperative in Austin from October 2012 through May 2013, the complaint said.

In 2011, the woman's will was rewritten to give DeFor and his church a significant portion of her assets. Furthermore, her friends alleged DeFor wouldn't give her rides to the church she used to attend. In response to that claim, DeFor told authorities she "learned more about the Bible" at his church, the Post Bulletin reports.

Reached for comment Wednesday by the Austin Daily Herald, DeFor said, "I don't have anything to hide... I haven't done anything wrong."

But during the woman's interview with authorities last month, she said she wouldn't give significant donations to a church she's not a member of, and expressed surprise when told about how her will had been rewritten, the Herald reports.

DeFor was stripped of his power of attorney, but as of publication it appears he hasn't yet lost his job with the Church of Christ.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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